The following guide was compiled by EO Jenn Ball and the 2021-2022 Student Reps as a way of helping incoming students get acclimated to life at the GC. [Edits were made in fall 2023 to update faculty].
OVERVIEW OF THE CUNY SYSTEM & ART HISTORY FACULTY
The CUNY system is comprised of 25 campuses which include 11 senior colleges, 7 community colleges, and 7 graduate, honors and professional schools. The Graduate Center, as its name suggests houses the Doctoral programs for the university along with some Master’s programs. The unique set up of The Graduate Center within CUNY, which is explained herein, gives students access to a very broad range of faculty and teaching and research opportunities, but it also requires some initiative and understanding to navigate the complexities of this system.
Faculty in our Art History program are of two types:
- Central Line faculty who are appointed only at the Graduate Center and teach all of their courses and do all of their service at the Graduate Center
- Consortial Faculty who are appointed at one of CUNY’s other campuses and at The Graduate Center; these faculty do their teaching and service on two campuses. Note that not every art historian within the CUNY system is consortial faculty at the GC, who go through a multi-year process of guest teaching and evaluation before being elected to join the GC faculty.
The majority of Graduate Center faculty are consortial and teach at the GC once every other year. They advise dissertations, give oral and other exams, just as do Central line faculty. They may also serve on committees at the GC and attend events there as well. They are often a good resource for getting introductions to other scholars in the colleges, outside of The Graduate Center.
Because they work on two campuses, students do, however, need to be mindful of the logistical differences in communication. Consortial faculty may not hold weekly office hours at the GC in a semester when they are not teaching there. Instead consortial faculty will be on their other campus, where GC students are welcome to meet with them, or via phone/skype/zoom/etc. or consortial faculty may offer occasional GC office hours. They also may not use their GC email but rather prefer to centralize their email in one account, so students need to confirm their preferred contact information. The consortial faculty and their home campus are:
Molly Aitken City College
Nebahat Avcioglu Hunter College
Jennifer Ball* Brooklyn College
Emily Braun Hunter College
Wen-Shing Chou Hunter College
Joshua Cohen City College
Marta Gutman City College
Mona Hadler Brooklyn College
Cynthia Hahn Hunter College
Anna Indych-López City College
Rachel Kousser* Brooklyn College
Gail Levin Baruch College
Michael Lobel Hunter College
John Maciuika Baruch College
Antonella Pelizzari Hunter College
Warren Woodfin Queens College
Siona Wilson College of Staten Island
Amanda Wunder Lehman College
*Professor Ball is currently serving as the Executive Officer for the Art History department and so is at the Graduate Center full-time while serving; Professor Kousser is currently serving as the EO for the Classics department and so is at the Graduate Center full-time while serving.
Advantages of the GC’s Unique system
Doctoral students have access to an unusually large faculty body across the CUNY system. Many students foster connections with scholars outside of the GC art history faculty, in related fields, or with art historians who are not on the Graduate Center’s faculty but are elsewhere in CUNY. In some cases, these scholars consult with students about their research or, even, stand on their dissertation committees. Please see the Art History Program handbook for the complete rules about having faculty from elsewhere in CUNY, faculty from other departments at the GC, and faculty who work outside of the CUNY system, on your committees.
Students also teach in the CUNY system as part of their fellowships where, in addition to learning their way around an undergraduate classroom, they often cultivate teaching mentors. As part of the Art History department’s pedagogy course, students observe faculty teaching in the colleges, exposing them to a variety of teaching styles and class formats. Many students continue to teach in the colleges as adjuncts after their teaching fellowships have ended, a testament to both their excellent training and the depth of the relationships cultivated during their fellowships.
When and Where do faculty teach?
Central line faculty typically teach 1-2 courses a semester, except when on sabbatical or other leave. Consortial faculty typically teach 1 course every other year (or once every fourth semester) at the Grad Center and teach their remaining courses on their home campus (typically 3 total per semester). As some college campuses have MA programs in Art history (City College, Queens, and Hunter), consortial faculty may teach graduate classes at their home college and Graduate Center students may take a course with a GC faculty member there. Finally, several faculty members are affiliated with other programs within the GC and may be teaching a course outside of the Art History department on any given semester (for example, Professor Ball might teach a course in the Medieval Studies program). Nearly all such courses would be open to Art History students.
Faculty affiliated with other Graduate Center Programs
Jennifer Ball Medieval Studies
Claire Bishop Theatre
Marta Gutman Earth and Environmental Studies
Cynthia Hahn Medieval Studies
Rachel Kousser Classics Department
Amanda Wunder Global early Modern Studies
Seeking mentors and an advisor
When you arrive at the Graduate Center, we recommend reaching out to at least three faculty members – consortial and central line faculty – whose work interests you. Because of our unusual system, we don’t recommend waiting to take a course with a particular faculty member, but rather introduce yourself, ask questions about their work, and discuss your interests with faculty members right away.
Access to Libraries and Workspaces: Where to work in the city and how to access the scholarship you need for your research:
Mina Rees Library at the Graduate Center: first door on the right when you enter the GC building and online at https://library.gc.cuny.edu. Some things to know:
ILL: Interlibrary Loan is an amazing resource for ordering physical books from other libraries and requesting scans of book chapters (up to two chapters per book) and journal articles not available through CUNY. You fill out a form and will receive an email once the requested scan is available for download.
Subject librarians: Subject librarians are a great resource for field-specific research advice or putting in requests for books to buy. Here is a directory of subject librarians at the GC. Alycia Sellie is the subject librarian for art history. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Merzbau (formerly known as the VRC): Study space in the Art History department on the third floor of the GC, around the corner from the main office
Some students prefer this space to the Library. There are open-access computers and printers as well as a reference collection of books and magazines. There are also shelf spaces you can reserve in the VRC. If you are interested, please email the student reps at: email@example.com.
NYPL: The NYPL has various branches across NYC
Stephen A. Schwarzmann Building: Flagship location, also closest to the GC. The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs (Room 300, on the left end of the Rose Main Reading Room) contains many non-circulating materials on art and architecture.
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center: located on the grounds of Lincoln Center, has all materials related to performance and dance, and some nice study spaces.
Even if you don’t think you’ll want or need to visit an NYPL branch in person, obtaining a library card will allow you access to all their online research databases, which in many cases are much more generous than those offered by Mina Rees. Apply for your library card online.
MaRLI Card: This is a program that grants on-site access and borrowing privileges to NYU and Columbia libraries. (Further information and email to apply is here) The application process is lengthy and complicated, and you must demonstrate a specific need for materials in either NYU’s or Columbia’s library. The best trick is to find around five books related to your current research needs at either NYU and Columbia that aren’t in the collections at the GC or NYPL, and make a case based on this list. Very niche subjects and material in languages other than English are usually your best bet.
Museum study spaces:
Thomas J. Watson Library at The Met: to register online as a researcher, use this form
The Museum of Modern Art Library: to make an appointment, use this form for archives and this form for the library
Catalogues and databases:
Mina Rees (https://library.gc.cuny.edu): is extremely limited, even for PDFs and ebooks. Unchecking the filter “Books” and “Book Chapters” when reviewing search results does help.
NYPL (https://www.nypl.org): much more comprehensive access to databases and online journals
WorldCat (https://www.worldcat.org): shows you locations of a book anywhere in the world, great for ordering physical books through the ILL
Hathi Trust (https://www.hathitrust.org): currently both the GC and NYPL offer cardholders access services to scanned books in Hathi Trust’s collection; you’ll need to login from the homepage.
MoMA and The Met make many of their exhibition catalogues available online
Academia.edu: Sometimes authors post full PDFs of their books and journal articles there
Zotero: free and easy to use. You can store all your references in here, and it will even automatically generate citations for you if you have the book’s ISBN or a DOI for the article. Use this from the beginning, and you will thank yourself later
Access to Museums with CUNY ID:
Free access to the following museums with CUNY ID:
- The Frick Collection
- The Whitney Museum of American Art
- El Museo del Barrio
- And more, see here: https://www1.cuny.edu/sites/cuny-arts/free-access/
CUNY Zoom and Dropbox accounts:
CUNY provides access to business accounts for Zoom and Dropbox.
To login to your account, click SSO login and then enter “cuny” as your domain. This will then redirect you to a CUNY login page. Use your login email (this is different from your graduate center email!), which looks something like this: firstname.lastname@example.org. The numbers are the last two digits of your CUNY Empl ID.
Top tip: Collect all your CUNY passwords and login information in one document. There are about five different combinations you need for CUNYfirst, Blackboard, your email, the Library, etc., and you need to change your passwords every few months.
Free Printing at the GC
Free unlimited printing from computers in the student lounge and in VRC: login with your CUNY credentials. The printers should be automatically connected.
Free unlimited printing in Mina Rees Library: The Library has office-style printers that easily print large quantities. It’s easiest to print from the computers there by either emailing your files to yourself or transferring them on a USB, and select the first printer that shows up. Or you can directly upload files to this website, but it is less reliable. Then log on to one of the many computers in the circular desk area by the printers and release the documents from there.
There’s also a great KIC scanner in the printing area, which is good for quickly scanning large portions of books.
The Graduate Center Building
There’s a cafe at the bottom of the building and a canteen on the eighth floor.
Administrative offices (Bursar, Registrar, Student Affairs) are mostly on the eighth floor. It is worthwhile stopping by in person to clarify any pressing issues.
Make sure to check in with the International Student Office on the seventh floor or via email to:
Get your I-20 signed before you travel (very important!)
Get your I-94 checked every time you re-enter the country
Make sure they have all up-to-date documents (passport, visa, other immigration things) on file
For any specific questions or concerns, feel free to get in touch directly with Flora at email@example.com.