With a new junior seminar requirement, history of art majors may soon engage in some “community building.”

Next spring, History of Art Director of Undergraduate Studies Timothy Barringer will teach a seminar focusing on the methodology of art history. Starting in the 2004-05 school year, the class is likely to become a requirement for junior art history majors, Barringer said. With students and faculty on the curriculum committee having approved the proposal for the pilot seminar, Barringer said future plans to make it a requirement are subject to approval by the course of study committee.

“We feel that there are big questions about what is art history, how it has been done since the 18th century up to now,” Barringer said.

History of Art chairman Edward Cooke said the seminar would be “community building” for junior majors if they all took it together.

“It’s a sense of trying to create a forum for all the undergraduate majors to get to know the other majors,” Cooke said.

The seminar will give a coherent introduction to the different approaches in art history, Cooke said. Knowledge of common language and resources, as well as specific writing skills, will help students when they write their senior essay, he said.

If the methodology seminar becomes a requirement for the major, it would not increase the total number of courses art history majors take. Instead, the seminar would be included in the current 12-course requirement, Barringer said.

Robert Womack ’04, a history of art major, said he did not think a single course should be a requirement for the major.

“I think we get enough [methodology] in the seminars we take,” Womack said. “I would rather take a seminar on a specific area.”

History of art major Janet Lee ’04 said while she might rather take a seminar in a specific subject area, a course on methodology would be useful.

“If it was offered and I had to take it, I think it would be very helpful in the long run,” Lee said.

Stephanie Carendi ’03 said some of the courses she had taken emphasized methodology. But she said a seminar on art history methods would have been useful because there is a different kind of research necessary for the field.

“It would have facilitated learning, especially how to use the resources that Yale has,” Carendi said.

Womack said a required seminar would be good in that it will foster a sense of community among the majors.

“I don’t really know that many of my fellow majors that well,” Womack said.

Carendi said learning from peers is important and that art history majors do not tend to know each other as well as students in other majors.

“Of all majors, I think art history is kind of the least group-oriented,” Carendi said. “And you miss out.”

Barringer said the seminar next year would be open to anyone, but if it were oversubscribed, he would have to limit enrollment.