Course Title: Analyse cultural history and theory

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term2 2014

Course Code: HUSO5194C

Course Title: Analyse cultural history and theory

School: 340T Art

Campus: City Campus

Program: C5308 - Diploma of Visual Arts

Course Contact : Jennfier Cabraja

Course Contact Phone: +61 3 9925 4472

Course Contact

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Anthony Riccardi


Nominal Hours: 70

Regardless of the mode of delivery, represent a guide to the relative teaching time and student effort required to successfully achieve a particular competency/module. This may include not only scheduled classes or workplace visits but also the amount of effort required to undertake, evaluate and complete all assessment requirements, including any non-classroom activities.

Pre-requisites and Co-requisites


Course Description

In this course you will develop skills and knowledge required to research, analyse and debate cultural history and theory. You will be able to gain insight into historical art movements that will support and develop your own approach to creative work.

National Codes, Titles, Elements and Performance Criteria

National Element Code & Title:

CUVRES502A Analyse cultural history and theory


4.Develop own practice from research

Performance Criteria:

4.1 Determine potential for integration of research findings into own work
4.2 Relate cultural history and theory to professional practice issues
4.3 Recognise connections and associations between history and theory and contemporary cultural practice
4.4 Develop ideas about how research might impact on or enrich own professional practice and its future directions


1. Select a focus for cultural research

Performance Criteria:

1.1 Select a focus for research in consultation with others based on individual needs and perspectives
1.2 Make an initial determination of the information and ideas to be sought
1.3 Challenge own assumptions and preconceptions about the research process and potential information sources
1.4 Select relevant historic and contemporary sources for investigation


2. Conduct critical analysis

Performance Criteria:

2.1 Seek out and compare the critical views of others in chosen areas of inquiry
2.2 Investigate issues around the historical and contemporary production, interpretation, promotion and consumption of culture
2.3 Allow the processes of analysis to take exploration of issues in new and unintended directions


3.Discuss cultural history and theory

Performance Criteria:

3.1 Develop substantiated opinions and ideas about cultural history and theory
3.2 Make informed contributions to discussions of cultural history and theory
3.3 Encourage and participate in open and constructive discussion

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • Select an appropriate research focus
  • Analyse cultural ideas and information
  • Develop substantiated positions to support professional practice
  • Participate in informed discussion of cultural history and theory.

In this course you will develop the following program capabilities:

  • Recognise historical and theatrical contemporary cultural practices
  • Develop opinions and ideas about cultural history and theory.

Details of Learning Activities

Each session consists mainly of weekly lectures as well as discussions and occasionally film clips.

Delivery mode
The course covers the period in art history from Impressionism to contemporary street art. Each class is illustrated by a digital slideshow. Use is also made of the document camera. All classes also come with slide sheets listing the images which will be used. Some classes also include film clips of films representative of the movement being discussed (eg Fritz Lang’s “Metropolis” for Expressionism, Bunuel and Dali’s “Un Chien Andalou” for Surrealism etc).

Teaching Schedule

The discussions either precede or follow the lecture. They precede the lecture, if the subject of the discussion is considered useful as preparation enabling the students to be more receptive and understanding of the issues to be treated in the lecture. The discussion is given after the lecture if specific issues need to be explained and elaborated before discussion can profitably take place.

The discussions are of three main forms:
1.Discussions based on ideas/issues directly related to the lecture.

2 Discussions based on the concepts / issues brought up by the lecture but related directly to the students’ art production.

3 Discussions based on specific issues raised by the students themselves during the course of the class. These issues are turned into a discussion topic on the day that they are raised or, if either the students or I require some sort of preparation or research, the issues will be discussed the following week.

The topics and sessions for these discussions are not necessarily fixed. They vary according to the developing needs and changes of the class as perceived by me, during the course of the semester.

The artistic reaction to World War 1 and to the pre war avant-garde movements.

An examination of two forms of early geometric abstraction with historic and conceptual context

Its relation to dada; its responses to WW1 and its aftermath; influences on surrealism; an account of Freudian Psychoanalysis and Freud’s ideas regarding dream production and analysis;
The surrealist group; its values, activities and ideas; its political aspirations; Breton’s and the surrealists’ use of Freud’s concepts and practices in their own work

Precursors to surrealism; ideas and practices of major Surrealist artists; the differences in approach, ideas, forms and influences between the male surrealists and the female surrealists-

Ideological background to art in Nazi Germany. Art as propaganda. Also art of the concentration camps and dissidents. Art as resistance.

The issue of distance and its effect on the development of Australian art. The major influences on Australian art in the 1940’s/ 1950’s, especially Surrealism and Expressionism. The impact of World War 2. The Herald Art Show. John and Sunday Reed. Visual versus Haptic approaches to art. A discussion of major artists

Impact of the 1930’s Depression and the Federal Arts Program on the development of American artists. The impact of World War 2. The influence of European Modernism on American art,. An introduction to Jungian Theory. An introduction to Existentialism. Characteristics of ABEX in relation to Modernism. An examination of major American ABEX artists

Social change in the late 50’s/60’s. The rise of the mass media and popular culture. An introduction to the psychology of advertising. Pop as the New Realism. English Pop Art – The influence of American culture on English pop Art.

American Pop Art – Background. Relation and Reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Characteristics of American Pop Art. Precursor; An examination of major American Pop artists.

Relation and Reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Influence of European Abstraction. Greenberg’s ideas and his direct influence on PPA artists. Formalism in art and culture in the 50’s/60’s.Characteristics of PPA

An account of the development of sculpture in the Twentieth century

The approaching crisis in Late Modernism. Characteristics of Minimal Art and questions raised by Minimal Art. Art as Object. Ideas and aims of Minimalism. Greenberg’s reaction to Minimal Art.

The social/political/intellectual context of the late 60’s. The changing concept of what constitutes a work of art. The rejection of Formalism. The dematerialization of the object and the advent of art
as idea. The legacy of Duchamp. A typology of Conceptual works. Examples of the variety of conceptual art, in form and practice. The influence of Conceptual art on later art

The relation between contemporary Land Art and traditional Land Art. Land Art and its connection to a growing ecological awareness. The influence of Minimalism, Conceptualism and Process Art on Land Art. The abandonment of the gallery space. The ambiguous relationship with the gallery system. Types of Land Art. American Vs European attitude and forms regarding Land Art
The art and ideas of Joseph Beuys

An examination of street art in the context of Situationism

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Illustrations should be numbered and this numbering should be made use of in the essay when you refer to an illustration. The essay is to be handed in to me, in class.
Regarding References
1. Make sure that you do not just rely on the Net for your information, as not all of it is correct.
2. Also do not plagiarise, that is, do not copy slabs of writing from a source and put it into your essay. First of all this is intellectual theft and secondly it’s easily recognisable.
Read your source, understand it and write it in your own words. I’m interested in reading what you have to say and how you say it. If I wanted to read a book written by an academic or art historian I’d use the library.
3The following is the form to be used in writing your Bibliography:
For a book-
Sypher, Wylie, Rococo to Cubism in Art and Literature. Vintage Books, New York, 1960
Sypher, Wylie, Rococo to Cubism in Art and Literature. Vintage Books, New York, 1960
For an article or essay contained in a book or magazine-
Sartre, J.P., “The Search for the Absolute”, in Alberto Giacometti. Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings, New York (Pierre Matisse Gallery), 1948.
From the Net- on Francis Bacon

Other Resources

Overview of Assessment

Assessment for this course is on going throughout the semester. Your will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program capabilities. Assessment will incorporate a range of methids to assess performance and the applocation of knowledge and skills and will include:

  • Written and or/oral questioning and discussion to assess knowledge and understanding
  • Completion of an art journal

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or the Disability Liaison Unit if you would like to find out more.

An assessment charter ( ) summarises your responsibilities as an RMIT student as well as those of your teachers.
Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies and procedures which are described and referenced in a single document:;ID=ln1kd66y87rc

Assessment Tasks

Major Essays
The Research essay briefs are given out at the beginning of the Semester and explained. However during the semester time is made during the class to go over issues and problems regarding the essays before they are handed in.

This consists of an essay which the students can use as an avenue to researching an artist or a movement or a topic of their own choosing but which will feed into their practical work in some way. For each essay they may choose artists or movements or topics which are relevant to the time period covered by the semester’s content.

The First Semester Essay. This is a general essay where the student is free to choose an area of research covering the period 1860 to 1920’s. The purpose of this essay is to assess how students choose/initiate a topic for research, actually do the research and then present a clear and coherent account of their research. They are also encouraged to choose a topic which relates to their own work and can therefore feed their practical work.
Regarding Elements and Performance Criteria: This essay relates to # 1, 3, 4 and #2 to a lesser extent

The Second Semester Essay For this essay the students are required to choose a one question from a sheet of questions relating to the period 1920’s to the late 20th century. This essay is designed to assess how well given a specific issue to be explored how they use critical and historical material to answer the question.
Regarding Elements and Performance Criteria: This essay relates to #2, 3, 4 and #1 to a lesser extent

Assessment Matrix

Please see course coordinator for assessment matrix.

Other Information

Choose one question to do your research and to write essay on. The Essay should be at least 1,500 words and is to be handed in, in class, on OCTOBER 15.The essay needs to have illustrations, bibliography and footnotes included.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview