Senior Thesis

The Senior Thesis is an optional project open to Art History, History and Theory of Architecture, and combined Art History+Visual Arts majors. Submitting a senior thesis qualifies students to compete for departmental honors and (indirectly) strengthens dossiers for university honors. It is also an opportunity for students interested in graduate school to build their academic resumes and experience the intensity and rewards of graduate-style research.

The thesis is a year‐long project encompassing the senior year, as well as the summer before, and will consume much of winter break and all of spring break. Substantial research and preparation is completed in the summer before the senior year. All thesis writers must enroll in the year-long Senior Thesis Seminar.

Students interested in writing a thesis should begin formulating a research topic and approaching potential faculty advisors during their junior year. Prospective thesis writers should have a GPA of at least 3.7 in art history courses and should have completed at least six courses counting toward the major requirements, preferably including at least one seminar. Further information can be found in the Undergraduate Student Handbook


Students may elect to apply for a Riggio Summer Research Award, offered through the department and intended to facilitate the preparation of a thesis project during the summer before senior year. These competitive grants can be used for domestic and international travel to art collections, archives, architectural sites, monuments, and other places of interest, CU policy permitting.

Grants for thesis research during the academic year are also available through Columbia College and General Studies

Deadlines for the 2024–25 Senior Thesis Program

Riggio Summer Research Award

Riggio Summer Research Award applications for rising seniors are due by Monday, April 22nd, 2024. Applicants must submit a proposal of ~750 words and an itemized budget. A faculty member must submit a letter of recommendation on behalf of the applicant, and the student's faculty advisor must confirm their support to advise the thesis project via email. These materials should be emailed to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, for review by the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Faculty Advisor Confirmation

If a faculty advisor did not already confirm their support as part of a student's Riggio award application, then the advisor must email the Undergraduate Program Coordinator and Director of Undergraduate Studies by Wednesday, May 8th, 2024, to confirm their intent to advise a student on their project.

Students who did not submit a Riggio award application must also email a statement of their topic to the Undergraduate Program Coordinator, Director of Undergraduate Studies, and their advisor, by this date.

Senior Thesis Project Proposal

2024–25 Senior Thesis Applications are due by Monday, August 19th, 2024. This application must be signed and approved by the faculty advisor: Senior Thesis Application Form

Aleksandr Kurganskii, "Hadrian's Villa: Looking for Staff and Stuff in the Cento Camerelle" (Advisor: Francesco de Angelis)

Jenny Wang, "SEATING BEYOND SEATING: Twentieth-Century American Office Chairs" (Advisor: Zeynep Çelik Alexander)

Jacqueline Yu, "The Nationalist Museum of Western Art: Exhibitions of Japonisme, Nihonjinron, and Cool Japan" (Advisor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Emanuel Arias-Goetzke, “Anatomy, Gender, and Gestures in Leonardo da Vinci's Hands” (Advisor: Diane Bodart)

Lisa Yuxin Chen, “Through the Looking-Glass: Exhibiting the Arts of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1271–1368) in the United States” (Advisor: Morris Rossabi)

Qingyuan Deng, “In the Ruins of Empire: Lu Yang between Speculative Futures and Apocalyptic Pasts” (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Olivia Doyle, “The Science of Impressionism: Claude Monet, the Beholder’s Share, and the Paradox of Perception” (Advisor: Jonathan Crary)

Arrietty Ji, “Arata Isozaki’s Tsukuba Center Building: Architecture as Cultural and Political Metaphors” (Advisor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Lilly Jean Cao, “The Space that Mural Makes: Julie Mehretu and Goldman Sachs” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Kaleigh McCormick, “The Construction of Femininity and Power in Barcelona: Bernat Martorell’s Altarpiece of Saint Eulalia and the Reign of Maria of Castile” (Advisor: Gregory Bryda)

Ricardo Mercado, “The Landscapes of José María Velasco and the Construction of the Mexican Nation” (Advisor: Meredith Gamer)

Noah Seeman, “The Evil of Banality: Gerhard Richter’s Atlas” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Alexandra Cooper, “Damien Hirst: Collecting and Display in the Age of Social Media” (Advisor: Anne Higonnet)

Bryn Evans, “GROUNDED IN OUR OWN IMAGE: Beverly Buchanan’s Marsh Ruins (1981) as material bodies in motion” (Advisor: Mabel Wilson)

Mary Fellios, “In the Beginning of Dreaming: Fusing Carolee Schneemann’s Ethics and Aesthetics” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Alex Foo, “The Syntheses of Alessandro Vittoria: Sculptural Ambition in Renaissance Venice” (Advisor: Diane Bodart)

Emma Gould, “The Right to Privacy: Spatial and Socially Constructed Hierarchies on Three American Plantations” (Advisor: Zeynep Celik Alexander)

Kennedy Roese, “Brendan Fernandes and the Question of Performance” (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Thomas Saenz, “From Synthesis to Nepantla: Judy Baca and Urban Los Angeles, 1970-2019” (Advisor: Lisa Trever)

Claire Wilson, “Women at Work: The Construction of Feminine Space in Christine de Pizan’s The Book of the Queen (Advisor: Gregory Bryda)

Octavia Young, “Beyond Burne-Jones: Reassembling the Collective in the Decorative Religious Works of Morris & Co.” (Advisor: Meredith Gamer)

Clara Maria Apostolatos, “Remains: The Art of Teresa Margolles” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Emma Bruckner, “Solitude and Surroundings, The Belfiore Studiolo and Cultural Exchange in Quattrocento Ferrara” (Advisor: Diane Bodart)

Haena Chu, “Lee Bul’s Architectural Installations: How to Survive Modern History in Korea” (Advisor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Rosie Hausmann, “Classicizing Gothic: The Architectural Fusion of Saint-Gervais-Saint-Protais” (Advisor: Michael Waters)

Jung Kim, “Anselm Kiefer’s Occupations: A Semantic Answer to the Problem of Post-Holocaust Representation” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Trinity Lester, “Reconsidering The Grid through the work of Hilma af Klint” (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Owen Monroe, “Gospel and Gossip: Francis Frith’s Photography Books of the Rhine and Hastings” (Advisor: Meredith Gamer)

Mia Nicenko, “Interaction, Instruction, and “Influence” in the Works of Catharina and Jan van Hemessen (Advisor: Michael Cole)

Natasha Coleman, “Between the Living and the Dead: Wooden Coffins and Physical, Ritual, and Pictorial Boundaries in Han Chamber Tombs” (Advisor: Jue Guo)

Alexandra Germer, “(German) Expressionism: Emil Nolde’s Paintings and the Revision of German Identity” (Advisor: Noam Elcott)

Clara He, “Building an Exotic Home: Architects’ Intervention in Rural Reconstruction in Contemporary China” (Advisor: Mary McLeod)

Sofia Hernandez, “Rendering Multimedia Architecture: Francesco Panini’s Colored Prints of the Farnese Gallery in Rome” (Advisor: Eleonora Pistis)

Emerson Jones, “Myth and Modernity: The Royal Liver Building and the Making of Edwardian Liverpool” (Advisor: Barry Bergdoll)

Nicole-Ann Lobo, “The ‘Oriental’ Christ: Religion and Alterity in the Art of F. N. Souza (1949-1967)” (Advisor: Vidya Dehejia)

Aaron Smithson, “‘Art on the Urban Green’: Sculpture Parks and Redevelopment in the Age of Neoliberalism” (Advisor: Rosalyn Deutsche)

Myles Zhang, “The Church of St. Denis and Gothic Architecture: A Case Study” (Advisor: Stephen Murray)

Irene Anastazievsky, “The Eumachia Building: Intersections of Gender and Architecture in the Forum of Pompeii” (Advisor: Francesco de Angelis)

Aimée Auguin, “Drawing with Light: Gjon Mili’s Photography of Picasso’s Light Drawings and the Distillation of Creation within the Studio” (Advisor: Anne Higonnet)  

Adam J. Elkhadem, “Pathetic and Popular: How Fourth-Century Greece Belonged to the Maenad” (Advisor: Francesco de Angelis)

Yuanya Feng, “Transcending the Temporal Heterotopia in Realm of Reverberations: Chen Chieh-jen’s Documentary Fiction” (Advisor: Christopher Phillips)

Jonah Goldman Kay, “Specters of the South: Populating Sally Mann’s Landscapes Through Memory, History and Time” (Advisor: Jonathan Crary)

Sam Lim-Kimberg, “Between Lupe and Che: José Rodríguez-Soltero and New York Underground Film” (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Diana Winfield Luber, “Power and Magic: On the Performative and Talismanic Properties of Monumental Mudejar in Medieval Zaragoza” (Advisor: Avinoam Shalem)

Amber Noé, “Love to Willem de Kooning’s Prints of 1971: Lines To and From Japan” (Advisor: Michael Golston)

Alicia Schleifman, “Something Really Messy: Ed Ruscha’s Avant-Garde Foundations, 1974-1976” (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Alexandra Solovyev, “A Suprematist Fairy Tale: Text, Image, and the Infantilist Aesthetic in the Post-Revolutionary Children’s Books of El Lissitzky and Vladimir Lebedev” (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Scott Sonnenberg, “The Way Things Are, or a Theory of Decorative Arts in the Modern Museum” (Advisor: Anne Higonnet)

Sam Velasquez, “El Abrazo Tierno: The Politicized Motherhood in the Art of Oswaldo Guayasamin” (Advisor: Kellie Jones)

Canada Austin Choate, "It's Only Music, John: Dan Graham's Rock Criticism, 1968-88" (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Benjamin Philip Davidoff, "The Ancient Synagogue at Sardis: Religious Pluralism in the Late Roman Empire" (Advisor: Ioannis Mylonopoulos)

Megan Anne Kincaid, “Motherwell’s Modernism: The Universal Language of Automatic Drawings” (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Geon Woo Lee, “Tradition Redux: Architecture of Kim Swoo Geun” (Advisor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Isabella Michelle Sterman Rosner, “The Neatest Worker of the Party”: Text, Stitching, and Sisterhood in Charlotte Brontë and Jane Austen’s Needlework” (Advisor: Anne Higonnet)

Amanda Brooks-Kelly Weiss, "Italian Baroque Outsiders: Guercino and his Old Testament Subjects" (Advisor: Michael Cole)

Samantha R. Williger, “Performing Anarchy: Christopher D’Arcangelo’s Rosa Esman Gallery Invitational Action—Look Out for what you Look At” (Advisor: John Miller)

Megan Elizabeth Baker, "Peinte par elle-même: The Digital Reassertion of Female Artistic Style in Eighteenth-Century France" (Advisor: Anne Higonnet)

Eyvana Maria Bengochea, "From Stalin to the Surrealists: Connecting Exhibition Practice Between the Wars in France and Germany" (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Sean Stephen Brian Delanty, "On UFO Photography" (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Jacob Ian Gagne, "Meat Monumentalized: The Slaughterhouses of Francisco Salamone" (Advisor: Barry Bergdoll)

Eleanor Crimmins Goerss, "Fragmented Temple & Maiden Intact: The Art of Sanctuary and Sermon Book in the Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam Begijnhof" (Advisor: Diane Bodart)

Kolleen Alexandra Ku, "Figuring Sensation: Kazimir Malevich's Late Figurative Paintings (1926-1935)" (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Aidan Timothy Mehigan, "Toward a Benedictine Architecture: The Campus of Portsmouth Abbey, 1952-present" (Advisor: Barry Bergdoll) 

Kady Min Pu, "Taming the Bull: Bull-Leaping in the Ancient Mediterranean" (Advisor: Ioannis Mylonopolos)

Sofia Silva, "Guillermo Kuitca's Produced Space in the Age of Globalization" (Advisor: Kellie Jones)

Sarah Bell, "The History of Preservation as a History Worth Preserving: William Sumner Appleton and His Work at Jackson House" (Advisor: Barry Bergdoll)

Martha Scott Burton, "To Suffer a Sea-Change: The Afro-Future Female and the Aquatic in Ellen Gallagher's Watery Ecstatic" (Advisor: Kellie Jones)

Andrew Demas, "Born Out of Autocracy, Forged in Democracy: the Metamorphosis of the World Trade Center and the Mediation of Economic and Public Priorities" (Advisor: Barry Bergdoll)

Alexandra Eynon, "Curious Cases: The Cabinet and the Contemporary" (Advisor: Keith Moxey)

Alexander Hyman, "Constructed Regionalism: Architectural Eclecticism in Jewish and Arab Homes in Mandatory Palestine" (Advisor: Jonathan Reynolds)

Julia Jarrett, "Reflections on the Polish Avant-Garde: Wladyslaw Strzeminski and the Theory of Unism" (Advisor: Noam Elcott)

Angel Jiang, "Storied Cycles: Reading the Boss Sculpture of Norwich Cathedral" (Advisor: Stephen Murray)

Elizabeth Lightfoot, "Form Follows Family: The Impact of Edith Elmer Wood on Modernism, Feminism, and New Deal Housing Reform" (Advisor: Mary McLeod)

Daniel Merritt, "Build the Bridge: Felix Gonzalez-Torres and the Development of Memory, Recognition, and Contemporaneity" (Advisor: Kellie Jones)

Zachary Small, "Sojourning Senescence: John Baldessari and his Late Works" (Advisor: Branden Joseph)

Ione Wang, "Intimate Matters: Giorgio Morandi's Still Lifes, The Museum of Innocence, and Waste Not" (Advisor: John Rajchman)

Roko Rumora, "The Danger of Seeing Double(s): Same-Subject Pendant Statues in Roman Visual Culture" (Advisor: Francesco de Angelis)

Rebecca Schechter Fattell, "Inhaling Viewers, Exhaling Music: The Visualization of Sound in Johannes Vermeer's Oeuvre (Advisor: Keith Moxey)

Shirlynn Sham, "A Shocking Split: Intrusions of the Phantasmagoric into the Embodied Perceptual Model" (Advisor: Jonathan Crary)

Isabel Schmidt, CC ’24 to research Japanese and American collecting in Tokyo, Osaka, and Boston.

Jacqueline Yu, CC ’24 to research the National Museum of Western Art (NMWA) in Tokyo.

Lisa Yuxin Chen, CC ’23 to research Yuan dynasty art collections in cities across the United States.

Arrietty Ji, CC ’23 to research the works of architect Isozaki Arata in Tokyo.

Sonia Kahn, CC ’23 to research the ways in which photographic practices impacted the work of late 19th– and early 20th–century modernist art movements in France.

Lilly Jean Cao, CC ’22 to research site-specific commissions by Jenny Holzer and Julie Mehretu in New York.

Alex Foo, GS ’21 to research Venetian sculptor Alessandro Vittoria.

Bryn Evans, CC ’21 to research representations of divine and vernacular landscapes via Southern Black art traditions.

Grace Corton, GS ’21 to research American surrealist painter Kay Sage.

Kennedy Roese GS ’21 to research the contemporary role of performance and its return to the museum.

Thomas Saenz, CC ’21 to research the Chicano mural art movement of the 1970s and 1980s.

Clara Apostolatos, CC ’20 to research the works of conceptual and performance artist Teresa Margolles in Mexico City and Venice.

Haena Chu, CC ’20 to research the works of artist Lee Bul in Seoul.

Rosie Hausmann, GS ’20 to research sixteenth-century architectural preservation techniques in Paris.

Jung Kim, CC ’20 to research works of Anselm Keifer in Scotland and Germany.

Trinity Lester, CC ’20 to research the archives of Hilma af Klint, Louise Bourgeois, and Agnes Martin in New York, Amsterdam, and Taos, New Mexico.

Owen Monroe, CC ’20 to research the photographs and archives of Francis Frith in London and Dorset.

Mia Nicenko, CC ’20 to research the paintings of Catharina von Hemessen in England and Belgium.

Natasha Coleman, CC ’19 to research ancient tomb sites in China.

Alexandra Germer, CC ’19 to research exhibition archives in Kassel, Germany.

Sofia Hernandez, CC ’19 to research the eighteenth-century prints of Francesco Panini.

Emerson Jones, CC ’19 to research the architecture firm Mewès and Davis in England.

Nicole-Ann Lobo, CC ’19 to research Francis Newton Souza’s years in London.

Kellie Zhao, CC ’19 to research mausoleum sites in Eastern Europe.

Adam J. Elkhadem, CC ’18 to research the late classical sculpture of Skopas of Paros in Greece.

Diana Winfield Luber, CC ’18 to research the cultural and artistic exchange of Medieval Islamic Spain.

Amber Noé, CC ’18 to research Willem de Kooning's lithographs in Japan.

Alicia Schleifman, CC ’18 to research the paintings of Ed Ruscha in Los Angeles.

Iphigenia Seong, CC ’18 to research the works of Nam June Paik in South Korea.

Sam Velasquez, CC ’18 to research the works of Oswaldo Guayasamín in Ecuador.

Benjamin Philip Davidoff, CC ’17 to research the architecture of ancient synagogues in Israel, Turkey, and Italy.

Geon Woo Lee, CC ’17 to research modern architect Kim Swoo Geun in Korea.

Elizabeth Monroe, CC ’17 to research contemporary artist Mark Bradford in New Orleans.

Isabella Rosner, CC ’17 to research nineteenth-century needlework in England and Massachusetts.

Eleanor Crimmins Goerss, CC ’16 to research the aesthetics of religious identity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the Netherlands.

Aidan Timothy Mehigan, CC ’16 to research Pietro Belluschi at the Oregon Historical Society in Portland.

Sarah Bell, GS ’15 to research the Jackson House in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Angel Jiang, CC ’15 to research the Norwich Cathedral in the United Kingdom.

Elizabeth Lightfoot, GS ’15 to research Edith Elmer Wood in Europe.

Hwi Jane Lee, CC ’13 to research contemporary art in Korea.

Andrea Lujan, GS ’11 to research her proposed thesis on the Aztec Moon Goddess.

Diana Greenwald, CC ’11 to research American painter Thomas Moran and his portrayals of Yellowstone National Park.