Janice Miller, a former IUPUI graduate student from the Department of History in the School of Liberal Arts was recently recognized with The University Graduate School Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award. Every year, each degree granting program of The University Graduate School may nominate one “truly outstanding” Master’s thesis for consideration by a committee of faculty reviewers. Annually, only two recipients are selected for this prestigious award from among the many IU and IUPUI students nominated.
Miller completed her MA in History at IUPUI in September 2016 with her thesis entitled “In Brighter Colors: Fauvist Influences and Gender Politics in the Art of Gabriele Münter.” She chose this topic “to highlight the career of a female German Expressionist artist, Gabriele Münter (1877-1962), who has been largely underrepresented in art historical discourse. As is so often the case with women artists, Münter's artistic endeavors had remained eclipsed by those of her companion, Russian artist Wassily Kandinsky,” said Miller.
IUPUI faculty who reviewed Miller’s thesis commented on the excellent organization, syntax, grammar and spelling within the document. One noted that: [The thesis] “is interdisciplinary in focus, equally a work of art history as well as cultural and intellectual history.” A member of Miller’s research advisory committee commented, “Ms. Miller dedicated herself to her Master’s research with an extraordinary level of commitment - a dedication that one would expect more of a doctoral candidate than a Master’s student.” One of Miller’s committee members is encouraging Janice to write a book based on sections of her thesis and indicates in a letter that this will require little revision. This faculty member also writes: “I truly believe this research merits a wider audience and would attract a readership.”
Miller said her research changed drastically when she made the crucial observation that Gabriele Münter's Expressionist work aligns very closely with the style of the French Fauves, a concurrent artistic movement led by Henri Matisse.
“This stylistic plurality demonstrates Münter's skillful judgment and reinterpretation of artistic movements beyond Germany. Together with my thesis advisor, Dr. Kevin C. Robbins, I embarked on an ambitious project to prove that Münter was not only an exceptional German Expressionist, but also the finest female German Fauve operating in early twentieth-century Europe. It is my hope that this reinvestigation of Münter's extensive oeuvre will prompt scholars to revisit the creative output of twentieth-century female artists,” Miller stated.
As a result of the award, Miller was chosen as The University Graduate School’s nominee from IUPUI for the Midwest Association of Graduate Schools 2018 Distinguished Master’s Thesis Awards. The 74th annual conference will be held from April 4-6 in Grand Rapids, Michigan next year. Miller will also present her research on Gabriele Münter at the 2018 American Historical Association Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
Miller received her bachelor’s degree from IUPUI within the Herron School of Art and Design. She is currently teaching German Expressionism and Art History courses as an adjunct faculty member in the Herron School. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. but will first take a break from student life to pursue research and professional opportunities.