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ART H 492 A: Alternative Art Forms Since 1960

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Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 12:50pm
ART 317
Adair Rounthwaite
Adair Rounthwaite

Syllabus Description:

Art History 492/525 - Alternative Art Forms Since 1960

Professor Adair Rounthwaite, vadair@uw.edu

M,W 11:30am-12:50pm

Art Building room 317

Office hours, M, W, 10-11am, Art Building 367

fraser museum 2.jpg Andrea Fraser, Museum Highlights: A Gallery Talk, 1989


Course description

This seminar-style class examines currents in art production and theory since 1960. Central to our investigation will be the question of “the alternative,” namely, how artists have represented the various aesthetic and political orders against which they seek to resist, and how they have manifested that resistance in the production and circulation of their artwork. We will focus in particular on questions of how artists have engaged the human subject—and its capacities to work, feel, think, and perform—both as a locus for the reproduction of dominant power, and as a ground for struggle against that reproduction. The course is not organized as a survey of artistic developments of this period, but rather to highlight certain topics that constitute important subjects of current debate within the field.


Learning goals

  • This course gives students with some background in modern and contemporary art history the opportunity to deepen their knowledge of current debates in the field. This will equip students preparing for work or further study in this field to converse at a sophisticated level about topics of current scholarly inquiry.
  • Students will strengthen their ability to read, understand, and synthesize difficult critical texts.
  • Students will hone their skills in writing and analysis through the preparation of a substantial essay, which might serve as the basis for eventual expansion as a publication, or as a writing sample for graduate school applications.



Students are expected to complete 40+ pages of reading per class session, and to come prepared each class with two or three substantive discussion questions based on the readings. All readings will available on Canvas as PDFs or links. Completing the readings and coming to class prepared to discuss them is a central component of doing well in this course, so students not comfortable with that commitment are encouraged to enroll in a different class.


Grade breakdown

15% - Participation, including doing the readings, bringing them to class (in hard copy, on a laptop, or on a tablet, but not on your phone), and contributing substantially to class discussions, including through sharing the discussion questions you have developed.

20% - Log of daily discussion questions based on readings. You will prepare two or three questions for each class, and submit the full log for my review twice during the quarter (Wednesdays April 27 and June 1). If there are multiple readings for a given day, you must address each one in your questions (though it is fine for a question to address multiple readings). Each submission of the log must include questions for the readings up to and including that day.

10% - Attendance at and mini-review of a performance artwork. This will be included in your second and final submission of the discussion question log. You must tell me which performance you attended, and provide five bullet points containing either observations or questions which came up for you connected to your experience of the event. Strong reviews will tie your own observations to themes and/or texts we have discussed in the class. You may choose among the following performances: those staged as part of the Henry’s series Six Weeks, or one of the three following performances hosted by On the Boards: Betroffenheit by Kidd Pivot and the Electric Company Theatre; NowNowNow by Sarah Rudinoff; or Employee of the Year by 600 Highwaymen.

50% - Research paper, of 10-12 pages (double-spaced, Times New Roman). You will select a topic early in the quarter, and submit an initial one-page proposal with a five-source preliminary bibliography for my feedback via Canvas by 9:00am on Wednesday, April 20th (5%). By 9:00am on Wednesday, May 11th, you will post a rough draft of your paper to a Canvas group to which I will assign you, and the following Monday we will conduct an in-class peer review session where you give and receive feedback on your work from a small group of other students. The final paper is due via Canvas at 9:00am on Friday, June 3rd. Missing the peer review session without legitimate medical or mental health documentation will result in subtraction of a full letter grade from your final assignment.

Full course syllabus: 492 spring 2016 v3.pdf

Catalog Description: 
Survey of "post-studio" art forms developed in the 1960s by artists who did not equate artmaking with painting, sculpture, or other traditional forms. Topics include: happenings, Fluxus, land projects, artists' video, artists, books, performance, site works, and art made for distribution on CD-ROM and on the web.
GE Requirements: 
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 5, 2016 - 9:01pm