Parsons New York

Curriculum

  • The MA program is normally completed in two or three years of full-time study or four years of part-time study. Required courses are Proseminar, Survey of Decorative Arts 1 and 2, and an elective in either museology or art theory. Students declare major and minor areas of concentration for the MA examination after completing 24 credits; those with a 3.5 minimum grade point average can petition to write a master's thesis. Students are taught in English but must pass a proficiency exam in French and maintain a 3.0 cumulative grade point average to graduate. A maximum of 6 credits of graduate-level coursework can be transferred from another accredited institution.

    For a complete listing of courses and course descriptions, visit the university course catalog.

    First Year / Fall Credits
    PGHI 5100 Survey of Decorative Arts 1   3
    PGHI 5105 Proseminar 3
    Program Electives
    6
      12
    First Year / Spring  Credits
    PGHI 5102 Survey of Decorative Arts 2 3
    Program Electives
    9
      12
    Second Year / Fall Credits
    Program Electives
    12
      12
    Second Year / Spring  Credits
    Program Electives
    6
    PGHI 5902 Independent Study: Thesis 1 3
    PGHI 5903 Independent Study: Thesis 2 3
    or  
    Program Electives (3, if taking exams)
    9
    PGHI 5904 Independent Study: Master's Exam 3
      12
    Total Credits 48

    Required Courses

    First Semester
    Proseminar equips students with the skills required for scholarship in the history of decorative arts. Class discussions introduce a range of methodologies and critical approaches. Exercises train students in essential tasks such as conducting formal analyses, writing catalog entries, and making visual presentations. This writing-intensive course stresses the mechanics of expository writing through projects that require students to conduct research. Each student selects one work from the Cooper-Hewitt collection to study throughout the semester.

    Survey of Decorative Arts I provides an overview of European decorative arts from the 15th through the 18th century, with a focus on Italy, France, and England. Discussions address the style, function, and meaning of the decorative arts in both ceremonies and daily life. Drawing on interdisciplinary readings, the class considers objects and ornament within their cultural, political, and social contexts. As the semester progresses, students explore the way the transmission of style, the migration of craftsmen, and the availability of new materials and techniques gave rise to an international vocabulary of design.

    Second Semester
    Survey of Decorative Arts II examines the decorative arts from the 19th century to the present. Sessions on the 19th century consider neoclassicism, revival styles, the Aesthetic movement, the Arts and Crafts movement, and art nouveau within the broader history of the period. Individual craftsmen, firms, and important style makers and commentators on the decorative arts are discussed, as is the effect of industrialization on design and objects. Sessions on the 20th and 21st centuries address modernism and industrial design. Topics include the Wiener Werkstätte, Bauhaus, art moderne, "good design," and postmodernism.

    Concentrations

    Transdisciplinary Approaches in History and Theory of Arts, Decorative Arts, and Design
    Students can elect to take a suite of courses in the History and Theory of Arts, Design, and Decorative Arts. These explore themes in visual and material culture and critical theory of culture, with a focus on the French and Parisian sphere. The curriculum is enriched by its connection to the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs.

    Curatorial Studies and Practices
    A sequence of three courses on various aspects of curating is also offered: History of Collections and Museums (considered through the many museums and collections of Paris), Curating Immaterial Objects (in collaboration with the AMT program of Parsons Paris), and Displaying Sartorial Objects (in collaboration with the Fashion program at Parsons Paris).


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