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COURSE NAME: "World Art IV: Visual Culture of the Modern and Contemporary World"
SEMESTER & YEAR: Fall 2017

INSTRUCTOR: Erick Wilberding
EMAIL: [email protected]
HOURS: MW 6:00-7:15 PM

This survey course focuses on the art of Europe, Africa, the Americas, and Oceania from the 1700s to the present. The course investigates all media, including photography, and considers the impact of globalization and new technologies on contemporary art and evidence of cross-cultural influences. Special attention will be given to the new aesthetic languages, traditional cultural sources, and philosophical background of contemporary art, as well as to the broader cultural-historical contexts of their creation. The course will also assist students in cultivating basic art-historical skills, in particular description, stylistic analysis, and iconographic and iconological analysis.

Our comparative survey of the arts begins with Neoclassicism (c.1750 CE) and ends with the Present.  It is an exciting swath of history to survey.  We pass through the French Revolution as well as the Industrial Revolution, the two portals to modernity.  We look at Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism.  We examine the whirlwind of styles that sweeps through the 20th Century.  We also explore the art and architecture from South and South East Asia, China, Japan, Korea, as well as from the Americas, Oceania, and Africa.  Our main goal is to understand how art and architecture function in each of these specific historical and cultural contexts. The different media, aesthetics, functions, and subjects chosen for representation will be studied in terms of the particular social, religious, political and geographical contexts of which they are a product. 

This course will blend lecture and discussion.  The goal is not only to impart information concerning the art and architecture of different historical periods, but much more to think critically and creatively about the art and architecture of the past.  Students are encouraged to deepen their understanding, to apply, to analyze, to synthesize, and to evaluate.  Inductive Questioning will be used to teach the principles of analysis and evaluation.

Students will have an understanding of the development of art from the Neoclassical Period to the Present.  They will recognize basic works and learn basic facts concerning their cultural and political contexts.

Students will learn the questions that art historians pose of the visual culture of the past.  They will learn more about the difficulties of interpretation as well as the basic subject matter and iconography, the purpose and function of the work of art, and issues touching on patronage.

Students will develop their skills of visual analysis and learn how to place a work of art within its historical period by its formal characteristics.

Students will develop an awareness of the different attitudes towards the artist and the artwork in different cultures of the world.

Students will understand better the unique resources of the city of Rome which has art from several of the periods that we study.

Students will learn how to speak and write about visual culture.  In particular students will deepen their understanding of historical writing that largely is directed to questions of cause and effect as well as significance.   They will understand better the basic structure of historical writing (point, explanation, justification).


Paper5-6 page paper on work of art in Rome from periods under study20%
Midterm20 Slide identifications, 20 multiple choice questions, Compare and Contrast Paragraphs20%
Journal15 journal entries examining works of art in city from the periods under study20%
Quizzes and participation 20%
Final examination30 Slide identifications, 20 multiple choice questions, Compare and Contrast Paragraphs20%

AWork of this quality directly addresses the question or problem raised and provides a coherent argument displaying an extensive knowledge of relevant information or content. This type of work demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate concepts and theory and has an element of novelty and originality. There is clear evidence of a significant amount of reading beyond that required for the course.
BThis is highly competent level of performance and directly addresses the question or problem raised.There is a demonstration of some ability to critically evaluatetheory and concepts and relate them to practice. Discussions reflect the student’s own arguments and are not simply a repetition of standard lecture andreference material. The work does not suffer from any major errors or omissions and provides evidence of reading beyond the required assignments.
CThis is an acceptable level of performance and provides answers that are clear but limited, reflecting the information offered in the lectures and reference readings.
DThis level of performances demonstrates that the student lacks a coherent grasp of the material.Important information is omitted and irrelevant points included.In effect, the student has barely done enough to persuade the instructor that s/he should not fail.
FThis work fails to show any knowledge or understanding of the issues raised in the question. Most of the material in the answer is irrelevant.

You cannot make-up a major exam (midterm or final) without the permission of the Dean’s Office. The Dean’s Office will grant such permission only when the absence was caused by a serious impediment, such as a documented illness, hospitalization or death in the immediate family (in which you must attend the funeral) or other situations of similar gravity. Absences due to other meaningful conflicts, such as job interviews, family celebrations, travel difficulties, student misunderstandings or personal convenience, will not be excused. Students who will be absent from a major exam must notify the Dean’s Office prior to that exam. Absences from class due to the observance of a religious holiday will normally be excused. Individual students who will have to miss class to observe a religious holiday should notify the instructor by the end of the Add/Drop period to make prior arrangements for making up any work that will be missed. The final exam period runs until ____________
As stated in the university catalog, any student who commits an act of academic dishonesty will receive a failing grade on the work in which the dishonesty occurred. In addition, acts of academic dishonesty, irrespective of the weight of the assignment, may result in the student receiving a failing grade in the course. Instances of academic dishonesty will be reported to the Dean of Academic Affairs. A student who is reported twice for academic dishonesty is subject to summary dismissal from the University. In such a case, the Academic Council will then make a recommendation to the President, who will make the final decision.
John Cabot University does not discriminate on the basis of disability or handicap. Students with approved accommodations must inform their professors at the beginning of the term. Please see the website for the complete policy.


SessionSession FocusReading AssignmentOther AssignmentMeeting Place/Exam Dates
August 28Introduction to course. The EnlightenmentGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 26  
August 30NeoclassicismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 26  
September 4Art under Napoleon; Romanticism (Fuseli, Blake, Goya)Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 27  
September 6Romanticism, RealismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 27  
September 11Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Architecture, PhotographyGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 27  
September 13Impressionism, Post-ImpressionismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 28  
September 18Symbolism. Late 19th century sculpture and architecture Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 28  
September 20Fauvism, German ExpressionismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
September 22 (Friday. Make-up for 1 November Holiday)Primitivism & Cubism; Synthetic Cubism; CollageGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
September 25Futurism; DadaGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
September 27Suprematism, Constructivism. America: 1900 to 1930;Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
October 2Europe 1920 - 1945 (Picasso in 1930s; Neue Sachlichkeit)Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
October 4SurrealismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
October 9De Stijl. Sculpture. Architecture.Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
October 11America 1930-1945Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 29  
October 16Midterm  Midterm
October 18Postwar Expressionism in Europe; Abstract Expressionism; Post-Painterly AbstractionGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
October 23Sculpture; Pop ArtGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
October 25Superrealism; Neo-ExpressionismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
October 30Feminist ArtGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
November 6Architecture: Modernism, Postmodernism, DeconstructivismGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
November 8Environmental and Site-Specific Art; Performance and Conceptual Art and New MediaGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 30  
November 13Contemporary Art WorldwideGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 31   
November 15Contemporary Art WorldwideGardner, 15th edition, Chapter 31  
November 20South and Southeast Asia after 1200Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 32  
November 22China and Korea after 1279Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 33  
November 27Japan after 1336Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 34Journal and Paper DueJournal and Paper Due
November 29Native Arts of the Americas 1300 - 1980Gardner, 15th edition, Chapter 35  
December 2- 7 (precise date to be announced)   Final Examination