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Art History

Research activity

This doctoral course consists of a scientifically in-depth study of the history of art extending from classical antiquity to the contemporary age. The discipline is intended in its broadest methodological scope: it will therefore involve the investigation of artworks and of the contexts out of which they arose and in which they are placed; their material history, critical discussion, institutionalization through museum display and the historiographical practices defining their canon; as well as the dynamics of production, reception or multiplication that characterised them.

The scientific activities of the Doctorate in History of Art are partially funded by the so-called “Department of Excellence” of the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy of the Scuola Normale Superiore, whose project is based on a relationship between text and image spanning many centuries. This topic continues a line of study in which, in accordance with the tradition of the History of Art seminars of the Normale, the written text is seen in its organic interaction with the works as a central issue: from the epigraphs visible in them to the literary sources – both historiographic and critical - that have accompanied their interpretation and divulgation.

The course seeks to develop a high scientific profile, primarily through specifically targeted seminar cycles aimed at connecting the varying research areas of the doctoral students within the framework of a common methodological awareness, but also through cycles of lessons taught by guest lecturers, funded by the Department of Excellence, and designed to open up new research perspectives on the most advanced international models. Of crucial importance is the dialogue with lecturers of the Scuola operating in other fields of the Humanities, which will be facilitated by the numerically small structure of the Normale.

At the same time, the doctoral course aims to promote the doctoral students’ profession in the field, by encouraging them to attend the great international centres of archaeological and historical-artistic research, the internal laboratories of the Normale (the Historic-Artistic Documentation Laboratory in particular), museums and institutions for the protection and promotion of culture.

Another opportunity for growth inherent in the collegiate structure of the Scuola is the proximity of the students of the five-year undergraduate course, enabling the doctoral students to cooperate, usefully and to their advantage, in the orientation of the undergraduate students, according to a practice that has become over time a virtuous tradition.

Teaching activity

The teaching activity is divided into courses and seminars.

Each year, in agreement with the Course Coordinator, the PhD students must present a study plan to the Faculty Council specifying the didactic and research activities planned for the forthcoming academic year. During the four-year period they must attend and pass at least three courses per year, chosen in order to broaden their cultural base and to prepare them for a specific research project.

At the end of the first year, the PhD students will propose, in agreement with the relevant Academic Board, the name of the supervisor and the scientific subject of their thesis, for approval by the Faculty Council.

The four-year period envisages participation in the seminar activities offered by the Scuola as well as study and research stays in Italian or foreign institutions.

At the end of each year, with the exclusion of the last, students will hold an interview to verify the study and research activities carried out during the year, before a commission appointed by the Faculty Council including the professors of reference of the Doctorate. Passing this interview will allow students to maintain their place and scholarship, and will allow admission to the following year.

For the purpose of assessment the students must submit a written report concerning the didactic and research activity carried out and the results achieved, including participation in seminars and congresses and other scientific initiatives, together with any publications produced. For admission to the final year, this report must include a description of the progress of the research project.