At the Circus: The Spanish Walk by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

You are here

ART H 233 A: Survey of Native Art of the Pacific Northwest Coast

We look forward to safely returning to in-person instruction and activities this autumn quarter. Current and prospective students please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages.
Meeting Time: 
MWF 11:30am - 12:50pm
ART 003
Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse
Kathryn Bunn-Marcuse

Syllabus Description:

AH233   From Totems to Tennis Shoes -

Art & Culture on the Northwest Coast

Seattle totem pole.jpg gong_hightop_Wolf_Chucks.jpg
Seattle Totem pole stolen from Tongass, Tlingit Louis Gong (Nooksack) Wolf Chucks


AH 233 - Autumn 2018
Katie Bunn-Marcuse, PhD
M,W,F 11:30-12:50, Art Room 003
(and sometimes in room 327 - you will be updated on location)


For an overview of the daily class plan, go to the Course Work Overview (to be filed under "Pages" at left).
The best way to access assignments, is to use the Modules tab at left and find our week/session, or see the "Summary" listing at the bottom of this page.
For Review Slides and additional class material (like videos), click on "Pages" and then choose the Review Slides page. (Links to be updated)

Course Description: This course will be a survey of Native art as a cultural expression of the Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.  We will study art as material expressions of the Native peoples of Puget Sound, British Columbia, and Southeast Alaska from ancient times to the present as well as exploring regional styles, with emphasis on cultural function, aesthetics, and factors of change as well as ceremonial and commercial art.  Topics will include sovereignty, the impacts of historical and present-day colonialism, appropriation, and other issues of current concern.  Each week we will look at a different cultural area and focus on particular themes within each area.  

Course Goals:  This course has multiple goals.  The first is to expose students to the art and culture of the Northwest Coast’s First Nations and to their particular forms of aesthetic expression. In addition, we will explore the methodologies of art history:  learning to look at and describe a work of art both verbally and in writing.  A key goal of the course is to become aware of the history and ongoing responsibilities, both personal and institutional, in relationships with the Indigenous people in our region and their tangible and intangible expressions of identity and heritage.

Learning Objectives:  Students will learn to recognize artistic styles and to analyze artworks on a formal and contextual level.  Critical reading skills will be developed through daily reading and written responses. Writing assignments will encourage reflection on readings and discussions. We will practice comparative techniques and apply them to the artworks or practices under examination.  

Writing Assignments: Writing assignments will require close reading and analysis of class material. The writing in this course will focus on the central concepts presented in the class and in assigned readings.  Writing will be a key part of engaging with course material through reading responses and other short on-line and in-class writing work. Critical thinking and reflection will be part of the weekly expectation in this class.  Your dedication to documenting your critical thinking in class preparation materials will strongly influence your success on exams and other written material.

Writing Tutor:
____ is the writing tutor for this class.  She is available to chat with you about your writing assignments (homework entries, the book report, and essays), to read drafts, or give other feedback.  While she doesn't have set drop in hours, you can email her at to find a time to meet.

Required Texts: 

1) UBook Store – Entering Time: The Fungus Man Platters of Charles Edenshaw by Colin Brown. $19.95
2) Course packet available at EZ Copy ‘n Print at 4336 University Way NE. Packets will be ready on Wednesday morning, September 26th (possibly Tuesday afternoon, 9/25).

Images:  Selected images from the class discussion and lecture will be available online to aid in your writing assignments as you review class material. 

Office Hours:  Dr. Bunn-Marcuse will be available for questions and concerns on Wednesdays, 1:30 – 3pm in Art 202.  Individual appointments in person or via Skype can be scheduled via email at any time. 

 Graded Assignments: As a 200-level class, the assignments in this class are meant to develop critical reading and reflection. There are many, small assignments rather than just a few large ones. This is intentional so that students can develop reading and writing practices and skills throughout the quarter. Staying up-to-date with assignments is key!

Homework & Participation: For most sessions, you will be asked to bring a reading response to class to aid in your participation and to share with others. Response templates can be found HERE. Your responses should be typed and printed out. They will be collected as a journal three times a quarter.

Grading:  The course will be graded according to the following formula:

  • 25% Quizzes and Test, in class

    • 5% Map Quiz; 5% Book Quiz; 15% Mid-term in class
  • 35% Writing

    • 10% Book Report;  15% Mid-term take home essay, 10% Reflective Essay end of term
  • 40% Homework & Participation

    • 30% Reading Responses and in-class participation;
    • 10% Teamwork - A. Team-led class discussions of assigned reading and B. Team presentation of contemporary artist

Class meetings:  Class meets on Mon, Wed, and Friday for discussions, lecture, and group work. An atmosphere of collegial support respecting differences of opinion and divergent worldviews is essential. Participation is encouraged and expected from all members of the class. Prepare to chat with your classmates about your assigned readings. Bring a copy of your reading responses to share with others and to facilitate your own participation. Having your reading packet in class will be handy.  Coming to class prepared is essential to participating in the discussions.  Taking notes in class and in your reader will be key to success on midterms and finals. ***Research shows taking notes by hand = comprehension and retention.  Only students with documented accommodations requests may use a laptop for notes. For a discussion of the reasons for this decision see these articles. No recording of class lectures or discussions without my permission.

Expectations for Success:  All students can succeed in this class.  There are a number of resources available on campus for additional help including the tutor for AH 233 and the OUGL writing center for feedback on drafts of written assignments. Please contact me if you would like some assistance finding the best help for you. Your most helpful resources are your classmates and teammates.  Use may use the Groups function on Canvas to aid your individual study time by posting questions to your colleagues or form a study group to review information and augment your understanding.

Contributions & Attendance:  This success of this class depends on the active participation of all members.  By attending, you agree to contribute to discussions of reading material and additional material presented in class.  Your insights and questions on the materials are a valuable part of the content of this class. Share the thoughts you have generated from your assigned writings and model the types of analyses presented in class.
Late & incomplete work:  Writing assignments will be graded down (B to B-) for each day past the due date. Reading responses are due by 9am on the day of discussion.  They may be turned in early but will not be given credit if they are turned in after the discussion day.  Late exams will not be accepted without a doctor's note.  If you need an extension on any work due to personal circumstances, please talk to me in advance so we can plan appropriately.  Flexibility comes with advance notice.

Teaching Philosophy: In my classes, students track artworks through time, exploring their ceremonial, commercial, and personal contexts in ways that illuminate both the details and the broad strokes of cultural and social exchanges. Writing and speaking about an object’s visual impact challenges many students to approach the subject with a creativity and openness that engenders wide-ranging discussions and deep thinking by student and professor alike. My own training in formal analysis and attribution supports in-depth discussions of style and form, situating objects historically with regard to time and place. I strive to pair formal analysis with a robust art historical approach, integrating components of historical, cultural, and social as well as aesthetic concerns, building in an ethno-historical approach to sources.  A critical element to this approach is engaging with First Nations artists, academics, and culture-bearers, to share their knowledge and experience of the dynamic history of cultural processes.  I strive to bring Native artists and academics into my classroom to provide first-hand discussion of the issues in their own practice.

The core of my research and teaching engages the social life of an object within its cultural paradigm and as it travels outside of the original sphere of production.  As well, discussions of contemporary art practice must also integrate current political and legal issues into an interpretive framework.  Critical understanding of the colonial relationships that led to the alienation of Indigenous material culture is the foundation of any serious discussion of contemporary political and legal constructs that impact Indigenous sovereignty over land, knowledge, material expressions, and human rights. 

My number one priority in teaching Native American art history is for students to develop recognition of and respect for Native art forms and more generally for Indigenous culture.  I want them to realize that these are living cultures, still in existence, and changing through time.  This goal is accomplished through the content of the course, guest lectures by Native artists and scholars, and through my enthusiasm and respect for the subject.  Visits to local galleries and museums as well as projects that focus on art in public places by local Native artists draw students’ attention to the Indigenous roots in our environment.   



Lyle Wilson (Haisla) painted version of the 19th century "Final Exam" box


Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. If you're concerned, tell someone.

  • Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
  • Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
  • Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
  • Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up online

For more information visit the SafeCampus website






Catalog Description: 
Surveys indigenous art of the Pacific Northwest Coast from the Columbia River in the south to Southeast Alaska in the north and from ancient through contemporary times. Focuses on the historical and cultural contexts of the art and the stylistic differences between tribal and individual artists' styles.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:11pm