Jun 13, 2024  
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2017-19 
Ohio University Graduate Catalog 2017-19 [Archived Catalog]

Interdisciplinary Arts - PHD

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Degree Title: Doctor of Philosophy

Program Name and Number: Interdisciplinary Arts - PH5192

Department/Unit: School of Interdisciplinary Arts

Delivery Mode: Athens Campus

Terms of Entry: Fall

Program Mission: The School of Interdisciplinary Arts is a Ph.D. program that educates scholars and scholar-artists who are grounded in specific disciplines and able to address the arts through the unique lens of interdisciplinarity. In the dynamic contemporary world, as the boundaries among the arts become increasingly permeable, we recognize the methodological importance of interdisciplinary scholarship to facilitate our critical, historical, and philosophical understanding of the arts.

Program Learning Objectives:

  • Students will produce original interdisciplinary scholarship acceptable at a scholarly peer-reviewed level, within a reasonable schedule.
  • Students will teach undergraduate Interdisciplinary Arts courses that address the course learning outcomes, engage students, and employ technology appropriately.
  • Students will articulate and implement a comprehensive vision of their career paths and goals.

Program Overview: Interdisciplinary Arts is a consortium of scholars and scholar-artists in the following areas: African arts and literatures, art and architectural history, ethnomusicology/musicology, film studies, performance studies, philosophy of art, and theater. Each faculty member poses a distinct perspective on the interrelationships, interdependencies and interactions among the arts, critical studies, history, and philosophy. The program prepares students for scholarly research, while also valuing creative activity in the arts.

There are two tracks in the program. The first is the scholarly track, in which students undertake a strong education in a primary area and secondary area, culminating in the production of a scholarly dissertation.

The second is the scholar/artist track, in which a primary scholarly area is pursued, while the secondary area is in creative practice under the tutelage of a faculty member in one of the following schools or divisions within the College of Fine Arts: Dance/Film/Music/or Theater. The culmination of the scholar/artist track is the production of an integrated scholarly/creative dissertation.

For both tracks, the centerpiece of the program is a series of interdisciplinary, team-taught seminars. Faculty and students come together to investigate intensively a selected topic and/or period from multiple perspectives and disciplines. Students are also required to take courses from faculty across the College of Fine Arts, as well as in disciplines outside of the fine arts.

The School emphasizes pedagogical training and thus plays a vital a role in the university by engaging undergraduates in the interdisciplinary study of the arts through general education courses. 

The Ph.D. in Interdisciplinary Arts is a full-time program of study (a minimum of four consecutive semesters.) Under special circumstances, and with prior approval, part-time study may be possible. 

Areas: the following apply to the scholarly track. For the scholar/artist track, see the Program Overview above.

African Arts and Literatures

For this area, students may focus on traditional African arts, contemporary African arts, African literatures, African film, postcolonialism, diaspora studies, and global and transnational theories. The courses needed to complete a student’s primary or secondary area may be taken with a range of other Africanist professors across the College of Fine Arts and the College of Arts and Sciences, in the Schools of Art + Design and Music, and the Divisions of Dance, Film, and Theater, and the Departments of Anthropology, Classics and World Religions, English, Geography, History, Linguistics, Modern Languages, and Political Science, and the African Studies Program.

Art and Architectural History

This area concerns the history of the visual arts and architecture and is based largely in the West from Antiquity to the Contemporary. Courses in the department focus on cultural history, are object-oriented, and address interdisciplinary arts concepts like word and image, art and performance, iconology, and art and power. Students are encouraged to pursue their interdisciplinary interests, and can engage with additional traditions, periods, and methodological approaches in the Art History program in the School Art + Design and across the university. 


This area concerns the intellectual history and research methods of ethnomusicology and musicology. PhD candidates in this area take courses that focus on how ethnomusicologists and musicologists have written about musical forms in various cultural, transnational, and historical contexts. PhD candidates in this area are also challenged to make use of their secondary area so that it complements their area of expertise and informs their dissertation research. 

Film Studies

This area provides students with knowledge of the key features of the Film Studies discipline. In particular, this entails an address of theory, history, and criticism. Furthermore, students are encouraged to pursue the Film Studies area with an interdisciplinary regard for how the art of cinema demands a consideration of all other disciplines that take an epistemological tact in their respective focus on visual art and culture.

Performance Studies

This area emphasizes a critical investigation of performance as subject and mode of analysis. Focusing especially on social and cultural dimensions​, the study of performance encompasses dance, theater, performance art, sound, music, and everyday life. Students create a course of study that draws on relevant courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences.​

Philosophy of Art

This area focuses on the philosophical study of the fine arts and the deep relations among them, as well as with history, world-views, belief-systems, religious practices, and mythological traditions. It is open to all historical periods and regions of the world. Combining philosophy of art with philosophy of culture and history of ideas, this approach leaves behind the framework of Western vs. non-Western arts and philosophies, and encourages students to study them as dynamically connected, historically conditioned, and continually interacting parts of the global circulation of concepts and symbols, as well as ritual and artistic practices.


Students in this area have the opportunity to study a wide range of topics in theater and drama with professors from the School of Interdisciplinary Arts, Theater Division, and Department of English. The focus is primarily in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, but courses are also available in Elizabethan, Restoration, and eighteenth-century theater and drama. In addition, students have the opportunity to learn about theater worldwide, for example, with courses from experts in Southeast Asian puppetry and contemporary German theater and drama. Finally, students can take related seminars in areas of Performance Studies to complete their theater studies.

Opportunities for Graduates: Interdisciplinary Arts has historically demonstrated a high degree of success in placing graduates in a variety of professional settings. Because of the emphasis placed on pedagogical training, the majority of Interdisciplinary Arts graduates teach in colleges and universities throughout the country and abroad. Having honed a specialization in a primary area, IARTS graduates are well-positioned for teaching positions in that discipline, yet by also pursuing a secondary area, they are attractive to departments, particularly in the humanities, that require versatility. Scholar/artists are well-positioned for teaching jobs that require not only practice but also history, theory, and criticism in their area of focus. Finally, some IARTS graduates pursue administrative careers, like deans or chairpersons of fine arts and humanities programs, or directors of art centers. The ability to pursue a Museum Studies certificate at the university’s Kennedy Museum has resulted in some graduates pursuing careers in museums, as curators, for example.

Link to Program: http://www.ohio.edu/finearts/interarts/

Link to Program Handbook : http://www.ohio.edu/finearts/interarts/admission/index.cfm, or contact Director, School of Interdisciplinary Arts, 31 S. Court St., Rm 068, 1 Ohio University, Athens, OH 45701-2979.

Graduation Requirements:

  1. Minimum semester hours required: 90.
  2. Dissertation or integrated scholarly/creative dissertation
  3. Qualifying exam
  4. Comprehensive exam
  5. Expected time to degree, if studying fulltime: 4-7 years.

Culminating Experience: Dissertation or Integrated Scholarly/Creative Dissertation

Admission Requirements: Potential candidates must possess a Master’s degree from an accredited American or international university. The following materials must be submitted for the scholarly track:

  1. Official transcripts of all previous degrees.
  2. Three current letters of recommendation that address the candidate’s academic achievement and potential.
  3. A three-five page essay in which the applicant discusses reasons for selecting a PhD in Interdisciplinary Arts and the intended primary and secondary areas of study. 
  4. Admission application form from the Ohio University Graduate College.
  5. A sample research paper from the applicant’s previous work.
  6. Graduate Record Examination scores.
  7. International students must submit evidence of proficiency in the English language to be offered a teaching stipend, and must achieve at least the minimum score required by the Graduate College. Students with scores lower than the minimum may be considered for admission, but will be retested upon arrival at Ohio University and may be required to take additional intensive English courses.
  8. A personal interview is recommended.

Scholar/Artist track: admission requirements are the same as above. In addition, the student should contact the appropriate College of Fine Arts professor (outside of IARTS), indicating interest in applying. The student’s portfolio of creative work will be reviewed by this professor. A letter from the professor indicating support for the student’s project, as well as the portfolio, should be included in the application (along with the other required materials).

Application deadline: January 31, for priority consideration for a graduate teaching assistantship.  Later applications may be considered, depending on enrollment and availability of financial assistance.  For students receiving a stipend, admission is granted for fall semester only. Students will be notified within one month of the application deadline.

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