Course Title: Analyse cultural history and theory

Part B: Course Detail

Teaching Period: Term1 2015

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 Email:

Name and Contact Details of All Other Relevant Staff

Teacher: 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


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 historical and contemporary sources for investigation


2. Conduct critical analysis

Performance Criteria:

2.1. Seek out and compare the critical views of others in chosen area of inquiry
2.2. Investigate issues around the historical and contemporary production, interpretation, promotion and consumption of culture
2.3. Allow the process 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


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 direction

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

Learning activities will take place in a lecture theatre using industry standard resources. You will complete exercises and industry style projects. You will also be required to undertake independent study.

In class activities may include:
• lectures
• teacher directed group activities/projects
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures
• analysis/critique of relevant reading material
• seminar presentations
• class exercises to review discussions/lectures

Out of class activities may include:
• practical exercises
• reading articles and excerpts
• preparing for discussion
• project work
• independent research
• online research
You are expected to manage your learning and undertake an appropriate amount of out-of-class independent study and research.

Teaching Schedule

Semester 1
WeekClass ContentTask / AssessmentLearning elements
Introductory lecture includes the overview of the entire year’s content from Impressionism to Beuys. Presentation and explanation of assessment is given and the students are informed about what is required of them.
2Impressionism 1
Impressionism and modernity. The influence of photography and Japanese art; Impressionist colour theory; the modern nude; Social/political/historical background.

Essay Brief 1

Distributed and discussed

2, 3.
3Impressionism 2
Continuation of last week’s themes.
 2, 3.
4The Heidelberg School
Problems of representing the Australian landscape; Australian ethos and formation of Australian mythology; Federation; Myth vs. social/historical/political reality
 2, 3.
5Post Impressionism 1; Seurat / Cezanne
The reasons for the development beyond Impressionism.
Seurat: The formal and conceptual development and practice of Pointillism.
Cézanne:The development of the representation of space and depth in Western art; the development of Cézanne’s ideas and practice regarding space, depth, composition and colour; his influence on cubism and modernism.
 2, 3.
6Post Impressionism 2: Gauguin / Van Gogh
Gauguin-The development of Cloissonism / Synthetism; Gauguin’s artistic development in Brittany and Tahiti; the colonial context of his work; his relation to symbolism
Van Gogh-The development of his art and ideas; religious and social context; his extension of Impressionist ideas towards a personal symbolism of colour, form and content.
 2, 3.
The ideas and practices behind the symbolist movement; Idealism; the literary sources regarding the use of form and imagery;
 2, 3.
8Examination Of 3 Paintings By Manet, Van Gogh, And Munch
This class explores 3 paintings in great depth: formally, regarding content, historically, socially, political etc.
  2, 3.
9Fauvism -Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck
The development of Fauvism. The development of works of Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck
 2, 3.
10Cubism / Picasso
Picasso’s early work; Blue and Rose period; The formal and conceptual development of Les Demoiselles d’Avignon; the development of cubism; an examination of varieties of cubism by different artists
 2, 3.
11Expressionism 1 The Bridge
Definition and historical usage of the term “expressionism”; introduction to modern German expressionism; the historical/ artistic/ economic/ social and political background to Germany at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century; The Bridge: Its artists, practices beliefs, aims; Philosophical background
 2, 3.
12Expressionism 2 The Blue Rider
The development and aims of The Blue Rider in comparison to The Bridge;
The development of the idea of abstraction, the influence of music, Theosophy; the development towards abstraction in his art
 2, 3.
13Paula Modersohn-Becker/Kathe Kollwitz
The lives, art and ideas of Modersohn-Becker and Kollwitz. in the context of Expressionism and Feminism
 2, 3.
The historical, cultural and economic background of Italy in late 19th century to early 20th century. The Formation of Futurism. Its ideas and attitudes and agenda
 2, 3.
Social and political background; the reasons for World War 1 and the social, political and psychological ramifications of the war; Swiss dada-: the Cabaret Voltaire, the ideas and practices of the Swiss dada artists
New York dada; Duchamp: His version of dada and his art as a precursor to conceptual and postmodern trends, the rise of the object as art
Picabia: art and practice; machine aesthetic; Man Ray: art and ideas
 2, 3.
16Art Deco
An examination of Art Deco in the context of the post war period and the application of “High art” ideas in design
 Essay 1 submission2, 3, 4.
Mid-semester break
Semester 2
1New Objectivity and the Return to Order Movements.
The artistic reaction to World War 1 and to the pre-war avant-garde movements
 Essay Brief 2

Distributed and discussed

2, 3, 4.
2Geometric Abstraction: Malevich / Mondrian
An examination of two forms of early geometric abstraction with historic and conceptual context
 2, 3.
3Surrealism 1
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.
 2, 3.
44 Surrealism 2
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
 2, 3.
5Nazi Art/ Art Of The Holocaust
Ideological background to art in Nazi Germany. Art as propaganda. Also art of the concentration camps and dissidents. Art as resistance.
 2, 3.
6Angry Penguins: Art In Melbourne In 1940’s/50’s
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.
 2, 3.
7Abstract Expressionism
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.
 2, 3.
8Pop Art 1
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.
 2, 3.
9Pop Art 2
American Pop Art – Background. Relation and Reaction to Abstract Expressionism. Characteristics of American Pop Art. Precursor; An examination of major American Pop artists.
 2, 3.
10Post Painterly Abstraction
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.
11 Sculpture 1900-1960’s
An account of the development of sculpture in the Twentieth century
  2, 3.
12 Minimalism
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
  2, 3.
13 Conceptual 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
 2, 3, 4. 
14 Land 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
 2, 3, 4.
The art and ideas of Joseph Beuys
 2, 3, 4.
16Street Art
An examination of street art in the context of Situationism
Essay 2 submission2, 3, 4.

Learning Resources

Prescribed Texts


Other Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. Learning resources include access to studios and computer laboratories and relevant software. You will also be expected to make use of the library resources.  Explore the extensive resources under Art in the subject guides in the library catalogue.

You will also be encouraged to attend exhibition openings and visit galleries outside of your learning environment. RMIT School of Art has two galleries and an ongoing exhibition program.

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

To demonstrate competency in this course, you will need to complete the following pieces of assessment to a satisfactory standard. You will receive feedback on all assessment tasks.

Semester 1

Assessment task                                                                            Content/requirements                                        Due date

Presentations of work relating to
theoretical framework                                                                        Artists of influence  1860-1920                            Week 16

Essay 1                                                                                              Theoretical impact on work                                  Week 16

Semester 2

Assessment task                                                                            Content/requirements                                       Due date

Practice Questionnaire                                                                      Artist Movements                                                Week 16

Essay 2                                                                                             Theoretical impact on work                                 Week 16

Graded assessment applies for courses within the Diploma of Visual Arts.

GRADE                      OUTLINE                                                                      GRADING                                                           CRITERIA

CHD                           Competent with high distinction                                    80-100                                                                 Highly developed

CDI                             Competent with distinction                                           70-79                                                                   Well developed

CC                              Competent with credit                                                  60-69                                                                   Developed

CA                              Competency achieved - graded                                   50-59                                                                   Sound

CA                              Competency achieved                                                 A competent result indicates that the assessment requirements for the course

                                                                                                                       have been met.

NYC                           Not yet competent                                                       Not yet competent indicates that the assessment requirements for the course

                                                                                                                       have not been met.

DNS                           Did not submit                                                             Did not submit for assessment.

Assessment Matrix

The assessment matrix demonstrates alignment of assessment tasks with the relevant Unit of Competency. These are available from the course contact person (stated above).

Other Information


You will receive verbal and written feedback by teacher on your work. This feedback also includes suggestions on how you can proceed to the next stage of developing your projects.
Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.


RMIT has a strict policy on plagiarism. Please refer to the website for more information on this policy.

Special consideration policy (late submission)

All assessment tasks are required to be completed to a satisfactory level. If you are unable to complete any piece of assessment by the due date, you will need to apply for an extension.
Please refer to the following URL for extensions and special consideration:;ID=qkssnx1c5r0y;STATUS=A;PAGE_AUTHOR=Andrea%20Syers;SECTION=1;

Please note
While your teacher will cover all the material in this schedule, the weekly order is subject to change depending on class needs and availability of speakers and resources.

Course Overview: Access Course Overview