MA Guide Extra - Wayne State University

Wayne State University
(revised June 4, 2007)
Students are expected to take the slide examination as soon as they have earned 15
graduate credits, ideally distributed among the required fields: Classical, Medieval,
Renaissance/Baroque, Modern/Contemporary. Please note that the exam is not to be
construed as an exit exam. Indeed, under no circumstances will students be permitted to
proceed to the essay/thesis research stage unless they have passed the slide examination.
A score of 80 points constitutes a passing score. The slide examination may be retaken
only once. Careful preparation is, therefore, of the utmost importance.
Scope and structure of the Examination
The examination relies on the monuments covered in Gardner's Art Through the Ages
(12th edition, 2006 ) and covers all major periods and cultures except those discussed in
chapters 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, 15, 25, 26, 27, 30, 31, and 32. The monuments on the exam will
be selected to test the periods and media with roughly equal distribution. The exam
consists of two parts.
Part I:
The first part of the examination consists of 20 slide identifications and analyses. Each
slide is shown for 5 minutes and counts for 31/2 points.
Identification requires the following information:
Artist (if known) or (if no artist is known) period or culture (e.g. Egyptian,
Old Kingdom; Hellenistic; Byzantine, etc.)
Title or name of the work
Approximate date of the work and location (for architecture
and other site-specific works associated with architecture)
For purposes of dating, only approximations are required. For works produced prior to
1400 the date must be within 25 years. From 1400 on the date must be within 10 years.
Students then write an analysis of each work shown, focusing on the work's importance
within a larger historical context (see the instructions on the following page).
Part II:
The second part of the examination consists of 3 comparative slide analyses. The works
chosen may be drawn from the same period or from different cultures, provided the
underlying conception and content offer opportunities for a fruitful comparison. Here, too,
students begin by identifying the individual works as specified above and the proceed to
relate the works to each other in terms of possible similarities or differences, drawing on
issues of style, conception, content, and historical significance. Students have 15 minutes
to write each comparative analysis; each analysis is worth 10 points.
Suggestions on How to Prepare for the Examination
In preparing for the examination, students should not only seek to master the
fundamentals of style and iconography, but also be aware of factors that contributed to
the genesis of a given work. These factors differ from culture to culture, although it is fair
to say that collective dictates of institutions, religious beliefs, and political aspirations tend
to be more pervasive in the earlier periods, whereas personal outlooks, theories, or
biographical factors often help to explain a more modern work.
Students should, therefore, take careful note of the larger context in which a given work
was created: Akhenaton's theocracy and its possible relationship to the unexpected
development of naturalism in Egyptian art (3.36-39); or the historical context of works
that celebrate actual events, such as the Ara Pacis Augustae (7.31-33) and the reliefs on
the Arch of Titus (7.43-45). The seminal character of certain monuments, like St. Sernin,
Toulouse (12.3-5), Chartres Cathedral (13.13-15), or Sant'Andrea, Mantua (21.4042) also
needs to be acknowledged. In the latter case (especially since the book discusses four
different buildings by the architect) the student should be able to expand the analysis so
as to touch on Alberti's indebtedness to earlier theoretical sources, such as Vitruvius, and
on Alberti's own influential theoretical work.
The Gardner text provides the monuments for which the student is responsible. It should
be borne in mind that this is an introductory, undergraduate textbook. It is expected that
M.A. students will have a far greater breadth of learning in art history, both from their
advanced undergraduate coursework, and their graduate coursework. Students will find it
useful to round out the information in Gardner by thoroughly reviewing course notes from
their required distribution of upper-division courses that most likely dealt with many, if not
all, of the same monuments in greater depth. Student should also be prepared to check
and expand the information in the Gardner text by recourse to standard handbooks
focusing on the period to which the monument belongs. If in doubt about these standard
handbooks, students should consult the bibliographies from their course syllabi and the
faculty member in the relevant area.
Grading Policy:
The examination earns a total of 100 points:
each slide analysis:
date: 1/2
artist (or period/culture): 1/2
title or name of work: 1/2
formal and iconographic analysis: 1
position of work in context: 1
each slide comparison:
date for each slide: 1/2
each artist (or period/culture): 1
formal and iconographic analysis of each work: 1
comparative analysis: 5