about art and history

about art and history

Assignment type : Essay
Format MLA

Volume of 1100 – 2200 words (8 pages)
Paper Guidelines for Trad 160 D, and remember, if you do the “PowerPoint” option in your Friday section, you do NOT have have to write a paper. It is one or the other

Ok, let us be real. Only writers love to write, but writing is an important skill to have. In your real life, you will be asked to compile reports, summaries, minutes of the meetings, or be assigned to research and factually explain some new idea or product. So, you need to know how to write and how to confirm your sources. This is why a research paper is nearly always assigned in classes. It is meant to give you practice on your research and writing skills. The problem for “newbies” in art history is that you need to “get” what this discipline is about- ART & HISTORY.

The “art” part of this discipline concerns things such as who the artist is/was, what his/her technical training consisted of, what medium/s they used, what the object looked like (and here is where for an A grade you must use a vocabulary/terms that describe objects and techniques) and a description in formal terms of what you are writing about.

The “history” part of the equation is usually where, in my opinion, things go awry. The discipline of history is as old as the Greeks themselves. YUP. The Greek authors Thucydides and Herodotus were fathers of the construction of past events or what is called “history”. They postulated that you first, you need to understand that ideas/things are not in isolation. They are reactions to what is going on around you. And history is not a place you can go to; it is a set of conclusions that you make about events from the past based on your best guesses, that were gleaned from the best sources. You were not always “there”. You have to reconstruct “history” from the best evidence you can acquire, so you have to look at as many books and articles possible.

So- for the “history” part of the discipline- since objects are not made in a vacuum, you need to explain who made the thing, why they made the thing, who paid for it, what was politically and religiously going on at the time it was made- how it compares to what came before it, AND how it influenced what came after it. Art. History.

OK- on to FORMATTING- For any of my classes, you may write in any writing format you prefer (MLA, Chicago school, etc.) If you are coming out of archaeology, anthropology, sociology, history, ethnography, architecture- etc… all of these different but related disciplines use different formats; no one format is more correct than an another- so pick whichever one works best for you.

You will first need to decide on a narrow topic; your TA’s will help you with that in section. Then go to the library and research- make them work!! Find at least 2 articles and 3 books. More is fine, less is not and NO WIKI or encyclopedias. (Yes, read them, no, don’t use them as sources- they are too general) The assignment is for a five-page paper, so you need one source per page assigned. That is typical for a history based discipline. Want “art history street cred”? Use a primary source. Need names? Ask Me! Ok- examples- Like the Romans? Find Pliny, Vitruvius and/or Suetonius. Like the Renaissance? Vasari is your man. Dutch Baroque painting a passion? Go find Jacob Ripa! Nineteenth century art your grove? John Ruskin was a cranky hoot. Photography is art, so go find Jacob Riis! Is early twentieth century art more your bag? Read the late Australian art critic Robert Hughes. He brings academic snarky-ness into art history criticism. Those, and many others, are all primary sources- aka written around the time period objects were made.

Once you have your 5 or more sources, read them. (Ha Ha, and sorry, lame teacher humor). Make an outline. Now devise an interesting intro- think of an opening to a good movie; lure the reader into your subject. Then in the last line of the first paragraph clearly state your thesis, what the paper is about and how you plan on handling the topic.

Then write the body, or a middle section of the paper, which explains the issue you are dealing with. Include what others have said about your object, but also include if you agree or disagree with what has been written. Then finally, have an exit plan! Write a concluding paragraph which summaries your arguments and shows how you proved your thesis.

And now edit, edit, edit. When you are done, re-read it aloud to another person. If they wrinkle their nose, or say “huh?” ….re-write that sentence! SENTENCES ARE NOT children! People lose their marbles if you tell them, hey, that is awkward or confusing writing. Don’t argue, nobody shot the dog, re-write it!

Odds and ends-
Please double-spaced, use black or blue ink in 12-point font, normal margins and no hieroglyphic fonts (lol, I once got a paper with red ink in Nordic Rune print, little did that person know that as a Highlander Scot, I was taught Runic, but really? Why mess with the grader?)

Include a title page with your name and class number, a cheap photocopy of what you are writing about, end or footnotes, and a bibliography. Yes. You can go over 5 pages, but write at least a full five. If you want to include images and wrap around your text, A-OK by me, just compensate for the space the image is talking up. 5 pages of text.……


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