College of Humanities and Social Sciences
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

MA in Art History

Saúl Cardona-Luciano , 2015

Saúl Cardona-Luciano
Why did you decide to pursue an M.A. in Art History?
I had been interested in the M.A. Art History program since I took some of its seminars during my time as an undergraduate at Mason in 2008 and 2009.  Having the opportunity to work with such high quality professors as Chris Gregg and Carol Mattusch (who I knew from my undergraduate years) seemed like the right "first step" in my return to academia and for achieving my ultimate goal of pursuing a Ph.D.  I knew the quality of their work and their teaching, and I felt confident that an M.A. under their tutelage would create the proper foundation necessary to advance my career.
 
What was your most rewarding class? Why?
The Art History 799 Master's Thesis course was definitely the one I found most rewarding.  Although not a "class" in the technical sense, enrollment in this course allowed me to synthesize research I had begun in other seminar classes, including a seminar on Augustus (ARTH599) with Chris Gregg, the Methods seminar (ARTH600) with Ellen Todd, and the Roman Sculpture seminar (ARTH599) with Chris Gregg.  Each of these seminars contributed in a very real way to the final product of my M.A. thesis, but were each only a tantalizingly short look at some larger issues I wanted to tackle.  Moreover, working on the thesis gave me the added opportunity of working very closely with the members of my committee (Prof. Gregg and Prof. Mattusch) on a weekly basis (and often even more frequently!); their insights and advise made the final product a resounding success and helped me achieve much of the recognition, rewards, and speaking opportunities which followed.
 
For those who might not opt for the Thesis option, the ARTH699 seminars are some of the most challenging and intellectually stimulating courses I have ever taken.  I had the opportunity to take two during my time in the program, and both were absolutely perfect courses requiring from student and professors high quality input, participation, and research.  My one regret is that I was not able to take more!
 
So what are you up to now professionally?
I am currently enrolled in the History Ph.D. program at University of Maryland, College Park, where I specialize in the field of Ancient Mediterranean History.  I will most likely begin dissertating sometime in 2019-2020, with an anticipated defense in 2021-2022.
 
How has the M.A. program helped you with your career or your personal interests?
The M.A. program helped prepare me for the academic rigors of advanced graduate studies, honing my skills in research, writing, and critical analysis.  I was also very grateful to the program for allowing me to specialize in my field of interest (Classical Art and Archaeology) while still supporting my larger efforts.  If not for this program and its endless support, I may not have continued with academia and scholarship.
 
Any career advice you would give to students in the program?
Try to get a sense of what you want to do post-M.A. and work towards that goal during your time at Mason.  The professors are all incredibly supportive, so communicate with them openly about your aspirations and they will help you to achieve them.  And, most importantly, do not be afraid to take risks and to put yourself "out there" -- demonstrating your willingness to go outside the usual "academic bubble" of most programs will make you a far stronger candidate for your future career than most of your contemporaries.
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