Fine Arts 160

Understanding the Visual Arts

Course Description and Requirements

Course Description and Requirements

Jackson Pollock painting in his studio, circa 1950.

Schedule of Lectures
Art Gallery Schedule
Art History Resources On the Web
Resources in Art History for Graduate students
Art Historians' Guide to the Movies
Fabulous Ruins of Detroit
The Art Institute of Chicago


Purpose of the Course: This is a first-year course for students who seek a basic knowledge of art, and is an examination of visual art from various cultures. It includes a study of materials, techniques, subjects, styles, issues, functions, and meanings related to visual art. This course satisfies the area studies-humanities for general education.The course is intended for students with little or no background in art, who are not art majors. Art majors should enroll instead in one of the 200 or 300 level art history courses. We will combine an overview of art history with lectures and some films devoted to more focused topics. We will also have some lectures by practicing artists.

PREREQUISITES: None. Students should have a good enough command of English to participate in discussions, write short essays, and do the reading.

REQUIRED Text: ArtForms, by Duane Preble, et al. Seventh rev. edition, 2002. This is available in the bookstores; you may prefer to purchase it through (etc.). You will have specific reading assignments from this text; you should also use it as a sourcebook for general information on art. Note that we will have one or two additional readings from other sources; you will be told about these in due time.


Students in this class will be asked to complete a number of short assignments ("Quizzes"), which will take place both in the classroom and independently. There will be six of these; the one with the lowest score will be dropped. There will also be a midterm and a final. Here is how it breaks down:

ATTENDANCE is required, and the lack thereof will be noted, and will be counted toward your final grade. Much of the quality of this class depends upon your participation. If you are not here, you can't participate. You will be allowed four (4) absences; after that, each absence will bring your final grade down by a full grade. Lateness may, at the discretion of the instructor, be counted as an absence. PLEASE ALSO NOTE that excessive absences, even if they are excused, may cause you to lose credit for the class. It is not possible to earn a passing grade in this course solely by completing the written work. This is not a distance-learning course.
By the way, here is the answer to that old question about absences: "Did I Miss Anything?"

EXCUSED ABSENCES These are defined by the University:

Please note that "documentation" refers to a letter on official stationary from the doctor or supervisor involved.

Please note that excused absences do not include car trouble, having to pick up someone at the airport, court appearances, or errands or happenings of such type. Such activities need to be taken from your 4-day maximum for absences. Excused absence documentation must be presented to the professor on the first day of your return to class. Please also note that excused absences are themselves eventually limited.

PARTICIPATION is 10% of your grade. Your thoughtful participation in class discussions is therefore a factor in your final grade.

COURSE OUTCOMES At the end of this course, each student should be able to:
-Understand the visual arts in relation to history and cultures.
-Make connections between the visual arts and other disciplines
-Communicate about art effectively in written and oral form.

Academic Honesty Students are assumed to be familiar with the University's policies on Academic Dishonesty [link to site]. The instructor reserves the right to fail a student in the class for cheating, plagiarism, and other such dishonest activities. This will be done no matter whether the cheating was done on a quiz or a major paper. Please keep in mind that all such gradings are now required to be reported to the Student Conduct Committee.

NO MAKE-UP QUIZZES OR EXAMS WILL BE GIVEN. The quizzes/projects are due on a certain day, and you must hand them or be present in class to take them, in on that day. If one of these is done in class, and you miss the class, you have also missed the opportunity to take the quiz. Note that there are no excused absences except in the case of documented excuse, as described above.

HOW DO I GET AN A? The answer is HERE.

E-MAIL: Each student is expected to have a functioning e-mail account, which should be checked at least once a day.

Guests in Class : These are only permitted with the previous agreement of the professor.

Disabilities Services : This University promotes equal educational opportunities for students with disabilities. If you have a disability and may need any assistance, please make an appointment with appropriate counselor; she or he will provide notification to your professor. Students with a pre-existing limitation must inform the instructor with such proof within the first two weeks of the course.

Diversity Statement: Respect for the diversity of peoples, cultures, world views, and thought are essential to the pursuit of healthy intellectual inquiry and creative exploration, and will be expected from both faculty and students.

Finally: Please note that the instructor does not believe, as did the Old Man of the Mountain, "Everything not forbidden is permitted." Common sense and mutual courtesy determine course and student conduct.

Art History Main Page | Your University Here