Course: ART 100
Instructor: Andrew Hamilton
F 2017

Description of Course Goals and Curriculum

This is an introduction to the history or art and the discipline of the history of art. Each class is taught by different professor in the Art History and Archeology Department, making it a survey of various art forms and periods.  Each lecture is arranged chronologically, and many different mediums are discussed throughout the semester. There are four themes on which the material in the class centers: Tradition and Innovation, Exemplary Works of Art, Genre, and Cultural Context. The goal of the class is to gain a basic understanding of Art History while keeping these four themes in mind. The class meets twice a week plus a precept that is taught in the Art Museum. There are two short writing assignments plus a midterm and a final. Anyone should feel totally comfortable taking this class if they have never taken an Art History class before or if they do not come from a humanities background.

Learning From Classroom Instruction

ART 100 is very unique in the way that it is taught by a different professor every week. Because of this, some lectures might be taught in a style that is more or less appealing to the student in the class. The important thing is that as a student in the class, you understand that the ways things will be taught will change almost every class and to be prepared for that. Lectures are taught by going through a series of objects or pieces that are representative of that particular culture or time period. One should take notes during lecture as these objects will be the ones that you are required to know for the midterm and final exams. One helpful tip for taking notes is to organize objects or facts into the four main themes that the course focuses on as you take the notes, (Tradition and Innovation, Exemplary Works of Art, Genre, and/or Cultural Context.) This will make reviewing for the final and prepping for essay questions on the final easier. The essay questions in the exams Readings are rarely discussed in lecture, but are brought up in direct comparison to works of art in precept. They are also useful to refer to on the midterm or final exam in comparison to works of art, (to demonstrate a better understanding of the period, piece, etc.) Precepts in ART 100 are very 'hands-on,' meaning that you will always be interacting face-to-face with the works of art you are studying in the Museum. The best way to prepare for precept is just to be ready to think about each piece you come across and start to think up some reactions or questions you could share with the group. In precept, don't be afraid to voice your opinions during precept! The precept grade is almost entirely participation based so speak up!

Learning For and From Assignments

The most important part of art historical writing is to know how to really look at a work of art and analyze it. Some of the best advice before writing an art historical paper on a certain piece is to take the time just to look and take notes on the object itself, even if some of the observations seem obvious or trivial, they might add up to something bigger when you are actually writing the paper. After taking the time to fully understand a piece visually, it is good to create an outline and map out exactly how you want to organize these observations so that the reader can create their own mental image of the piece as they read. Not only should you have a clear argument, but you should construct a clear visual of the piece or pieces in question. When it comes to the midterm and finals exams, these tests are largely memorization based with written work on the pieces you identify. For the exam you will be assigned between 60 and 80 pieces which you will need to memorize the name, date, artist, and any important information. You will be asked to identify about 20 of these pieces on the exam. One of the hardest parts of the midterm and final exams is being able to complete the required writing in the time given. It is good to have a mental outline of how you will write about or analyze the works of art you are familiar with beforehand so that if they come up in the exam you automatically know what to write about. It is also good to have some pieces of art that would make good comparisons so that you can tie together different parts of the class.

External Resources

The University Museum website has descriptions of each of its pieces in its database-- it is helpful to check out these descriptions as you review for the exams or prepare for class. They are often a good general overview of the piece and where it is from. However, these caption from the museum are definitely not specific enough to be your only source for the objects in question. It is always helpful to look at a piece of art and talk about it with a friend or classmate, sort of mimicking the discussion-based precepts. This is one of the best ways for an individual to expand their visual understanding of a piece and can often make the process of analyzing a piece a little more enjoyable.

What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course Selection

For the purposes of course selection, students should know that this is a class whose grade is inevitably based on written work and memorization. The papers are very dependent on each student's individual visual analysis and the exams are structured around students' ability to articulate exact information like name, artist, and date as well as expand on these facts with visual analysis. This class is a great class for anyone who has never taken an Art History class or is not in the humanities. It is the perfect way to get an introduction to the department, for you really get a feel for what all of the professors are like and why they are passionate about the areas they are expert in. It is not particularly difficult if you stay on top of your work and are comfortable memorizing key facts for the final exam.
An Introduction to the History of Art: Meanings in the Visual Arts

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