Common Ground by Erin Elizabeth Wilson

You are here

ART H 270 A: Art/Identity Politics: Issues of Representations in Contemporary Art

Meeting Time: 
to be arranged
* *
Kolya Rice
Kolya Rice

Syllabus Description:

Intro Email ArtH 270 F 23-1.docx 

Art H 270 Syllabus Autumn 2023-1.docx 

Barbara Kruger, This Masterpiece colage

Art/Identity/Politics: Issues of Representation in Contemporary Art

Instructor: Kolya Rice 

Office hours: By Zoom appointment

Course Description:
This course is designed to introduce participants to numerous ways contemporary artists and art movements, primarily in the U.S., have explored the intersection of visual representation, identity (gender, ethnic, racial, sexual) and politics, one of the most persistent themes in art since the 1960s. This course is entirely online and asynchronous. Participants will work through sequences of materials and assignments organized in weekly “modules” on Canvas according to their own individual schedules with a great degree of flexibility.

Course content will be delivered through a series of Panopto video lectures and coordinated readings where participants will explore how artists have contested dominant representations of gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, as well as other minority “subjectivities,” and how artists have proposed alternatives for the representation of these constituencies. Online discussion forums, reflective papers on readings, online quizzes and assignments have been designed to engage students with course topics, foster creative and critical thinking, allow dialogue concerning the stakes involved in visual representations, and allow instructor assessment and evaluation of participants’ progress.

Course Outcomes:

  • Explore the key issues confronted, social goals sought, and artistic approaches employed by contemporary artists to deconstruct harmful misrepresentations and to foster alternative representations of diverse subjectivities
  • Investigate how representations fostered by white patriarchal culture have misrepresented the identity of various subcultures to the detriment of the latter and benefit of the former.
  • Use the artistic approaches of various contemporary artists to think critically about and reflect on personal and cultural assumptions and biases, and to consider alternative views regarding power and inequality as they relate to issues of the visual representation of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and religion
  • Develop interdisciplinary knowledge to examine how power and privilege manifest in culture and investigate how systems of power are related to class, race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and other identities
  • Identify strategies in visual representation for challenging systems of power and privilege
  • Discuss multiple interpretations of course content as it relates to structures of power, privilege and inequality using discipline-appropriate concepts and theories, and articulate how and why these structures inform various identities

Required Readings:

There is no text for this course. Pdf files of course readings are posted on Canvas. Each weekly “module” on Canvas contains the course readings for that week. For most readings, I will provide a video introduction and “reading guides” that will help you focus on and engage with key ideas.

Student Responsibilities:

3 quizzes: 15% each (45% of overall grade)

Each quiz will require students to write short answers and longer essays on topics covered in the Panopto lectures and readings. These are open notes quizzes—you may return to the lectures and readings when composing your answers. Each quiz will only cover the topics for that 3-week section of the course. In other words, they are not comprehensive. These quizzes will be graded on a 100-point scale.

Summary/Reflective essays (30%)

To ensure that participants have a strong comprehension of key ideas from course readings and lectures, and to allow me to offer feedback, students will be required to write 3 summary/reflective essays over the course of the quarter. Specific prompts for each weekly summary/reflective essay can be found on Canvas. These essays will be graded on a 10-point scale.

Participation in weekly Discussion Forums (25%)

The topics of this course lend themselves to rich discussion and manifold perspectives. Candidly, this is often difficult to achieve in an online course. My hope is that you will engage with each other, respectfully and thoughtfully in the weekly online discussion forums. Each week I will provide you with specific topics, ideas and issues raised in the lectures and reading. Each student will be required to make one post in the discussion forum before the end of the day on Wednesdays. You are required to respond to at least one of these posts from another student by the end of the day on Fridays. You are welcome and encouraged to post/respond as many times as you desire. Your posts/responses will be graded on a 10-point scale.


The 10 point scale corresponds to the following grades: 
10 4.0 A
9 3.4 B 
8 2.7 B-
7 1.7 C/C- 
6 1.0 D
5 and below 0.0 F

The 100 point scale corresponds to the following decimal/letter grades: 
95-100 4.0-3.9 A
90-94.99 3.8 - 3.5 A-
87-89.99 3.4 - 3.2 B+
83-86.99 3.1 – 2.9 B 
80.00-82.99 2.8 - 2.5 B- 
77-79.99 2.4 - 2.2 C+
74-76.99 2.1 - 1.9 C
70.00-73.99 1.8 - 1.5 C-
67-69.99 1.4 - 1.2 D+
64-66.99 1.1 – 0.9 D 
60-63.99 0.8-0.7 D-
Below 60 0.0 F

ArtH 270 Grading Scale.pdf

Late papers and discussion post policy:

Papers will be marked down 10% for each day they are late and will not be accepted more than five days following the due date.  Discussion posts will be marked down 20% for each day they are late and will not be accepted if more than three days late. If you have a serious conflict or emergency, please talk to me about it in advance of the due date and I will collaborate with you.        

Academic Misconduct:

We assume that you will follow the UW policies concerning Academic Misconduct. Note that the UW regards acts of academic dishonesty, including such activities as plagiarism, cheating, and unauthorized collaboration as acts of academic misconduct. To be clear, unauthorized collaboration, including the use of Chegg, Course Hero and any AI-based tools such as ChatGPT is strictly prohibited in this course.

As to plagiarism, your posts/submissions must present your own ideas in your own words. If you copy someone’s exact words, you must put them in quotation marks. If you summarize, paraphrase, or quote someone else’s ideas, facts, or words, you must cite your sources. Failure to follow these policies will result in a report of academic misconduct, which may become a part of your permanent academic record.

VeriCite anti-plagiarism software:

NoticeThe University has a license agreement with VeriCite, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources and work submitted by previous students of this course. I will use the service in this class; all assignments and quizzes you submit will be checked by VeriCite. The VeriCite Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced. All instances of intentional plagiarism will result in zero credit on the assignment, and a report indicating academic dishonesty to the School of Art and the University of Washington. For further information, visit:

School of Art Policies

Religious Accommodations Policy


Course Outline and Schedule:

(Specific prompts for the assignments listed below will be found on Canvas.)


Week 1:          Introduction: Setting the stage:

Module 1:        Introduction to the course: overview


  1. Panopto video lecture
  2. Discussion forum—write a brief personal bio and reflection on your sense of your own identity and post. See prompt on Canvas.


Module 2:        Problems in the Field of Representation: overview of how “woman” and “femininity” have been represented historically in western culture.


  1. Panopto lecture
  2. Summary/Reflection essay


▪Brian Wallis (excerpt) “What Wrong with this Picture: An Introduction,” from Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984): xi-xvi.

▪John Berger, Chapter 3 from Ways of Seeing (1972): 45-64.

▪Jean Robertson and Craig McDaniel, “Identity” in Themes of Contemporary Art (2013): 40-76.

▪Key terms from David Macey, The Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory (2000): Browse this, and use it as needed throughout the quarter.

Optional reading:

▪David Summers, “Representation” from Critical Terms for Art History (1996): 3-16.


Week 2:          First Generation Feminist Arts in the United States:

Module 3:        “First Generation” Feminist Arts in the United States: strategic essentialism


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Summary/Reflection essay


▪Norma Broude and Mary Garrard, “Introduction: Feminism and Art in the Twentieth Century,” from The Power of Feminist Art (1994): 10-29.

▪Rebecca Schneider, “Eye/Body: Carolee Schneemann beside Herself,” The Explicit Body in Performance (1997): 32-42.

 ▪Gloria Feman Orenstein, “Recovering Her Story: Feminist Artists Reclaim the Great Goddess,” from The Power of Feminist Art (1994):174-189

Optional Readings:

 ▪Claudia Mesch, “Feminisms,” from Art and Politics (2013): 99-124.

 ▪Simone de Beavoir, (excerpt) The Second Sex (1949): xv-xviii.

 ▪ Judith Butler, “Gendering the Body: Beauvoir’s Philosophical Contribution,” from Women, Knowledge and Reality: Explorations in Feminist Philosophy (1989): 253-262.

▪Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (excerpt) (1963): 62-72

Week 3:          First Generation Feminist Arts in the United States

Module 4:        Case Study: West Coast Feminist Arts: Herstory and “visibility”


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Summary/Reflection essay


▪Arlene Raven, “Womanhouse,” from The Power of Feminist Art (1994): 48-63.

▪Lucy Lippard, “Setting a New Place: Judy Chicago’s Dinner Party,” (1974), Get the Message: A Decade of Art for Social Change (1984): 109-113.

▪Jeff Kelley. “The Body Politics of Suzanne Lacy,” But is It Art? The Spirit of Art as Activism (Seattle: Bay Press 1995): 221-49.

▪Elizabeth Hess. “Guerilla Girl Power: Why the Art World Needs a Conscience,” in But is It Art? (1995): 309-332.

Optional Reading:

▪Amelia Jones, “The Sexual Politics of the Dinner Party: A Critical Context,” from Reclaiming Female Agency: Feminist Art History after Postmodernism (2005): 409-433.


Week 4:          Second Generation Feminists Arts: “decentered subjectivity”

Module 5:       


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum


▪Hal Foster, et al., Art Since 1900: Modernism, Anti-modernism, Postmodernism, v. II (2004): 580-583.

 ▪Margaret Iversen, “Fashioning Feminine Identity,” Art International (Spring 1988): 52-57.                      

▪Kate Linker, (excerpt) Love for Sale: the Words and Pictures of Barbara Kruger (1990): 12-18, 27-30, 59-64.

Optional Reading:

▪Kate Linker, “Representation and Sexuality,” from Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation (1984): 391-415.


 Week 5:          Recap, preparation for Quiz 1, and discussion      

Module 6:       


  1. Panopto video lecture
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Quiz 1


Week 6:          Representing Race:

Module 7         Black/African American U.S. Women Artists and Feminism     


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Optional Summary/Reflection Essay


▪Hal Foster et. al., Art since 1900: Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism, Vol. 2 (2004): 639-44.

▪bell hooks, “Marginality as Site of Resistance,” from Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (1990): 341-43.       

▪Adrian Piper, “The Triple Negation of Colored Women Artists,” fromThe Feminism and Visual Culture Reader (2003): 239-248

Optional Readings:

 ▪Yolanda Lopez and Moira Roth, “Social Protest: Racism and Sexism,” from The Power of Feminist Art (1994): 140-57, 293-94.

▪ Lowery Stokes Sims, “Aspects of Performance in the Work of Black American Woman Artists,” from Feminist Art Criticism: An Anthology (1988): 207-225.

▪Claudia Mesch, “Postcolonial Identity and the Civil Rights Movement,” from Art and Politics (2013): 44-67.

Week 7:          Black/African American U.S. Male Artists:

Module 8        


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Quiz 2


▪Claudia Mesch, “Postcolonial Identity and the Civil Rights Movement,” from Art and Politics (2013): 44-67.

▪Hal Foster, et al. (excerpt) Art since 1900 (2004): 639-644.

▪Thelma Golden, “My Brother,” from Black Male Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art (1994): 19-43.

Optional Reading:

▪bell hooks, “Feminism Inside: Toward a Black Body Politic,” from Black Male Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art (1994):  127-139

Week 8:          LGBTQ Arts

Module 9        


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum


▪Anne D’Alleva, “Sexualities, LGBTI Studies and Queer Theory” Look Again: Art History and Critical Theory (2005):70-74.

▪ Claudia Mesch, “Gay Identity/Queer Art” from Art and Politics (2013): 125-147.

▪Hal Foster, et al. from Art since 1900 (2004): 607-611.

▪Richard Meyer, “Vanishing Points: Art, Aids, and the Problem of Visibility,” Outlaw Culture (2002): 225-275.

Optional Readings:

 ▪Douglas Crimp, “Mourning and Militancy,” from Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures (1990): 233-245.

 ▪Robert Atkins, “Goodbye Lesbian/Gay History, Hello Queer Sensibility,” Art Journal (Winter 1996): 80-85.

Week 9:          Case Study: The Culture Wars

Module 10      


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum


▪Richard Bolton et al, (excerpts) from Culture Wars: Documents from the Recent Controversies in the Arts (1992): 3-26 (Bolton), 27 (Wildmon), 33-36 (Gorton), 90-91 (Hughes), 201-204 (Lippard).

 ▪Various newspaper articles: see Canvas

Week 10:        Contemporary Native American/Indigenous Arts and Postcolonialism

Module 11      


  1. Panopto video lectures
  2. Discussion forum
  3. Discussion forum reflection on personal “identity”
  4. Quiz 3


▪Anne D’Alleva, “Cultural Studies and Postcolonial Theory,” Look Again (2005): 76-81.

▪Lisa Corrin, “Mining the Museum: Artists Look at Museums, Museums Look at Themselves, Mining the Museum (1994): 1-22.     

▪Jean Fisher, “In Search of the Inauthentic: Disturbing Signs in Recent Native American Art,” Art Journal (Fall 1992): 44-50.

▪Richard Shiff. “The Necessity of Jimmy Durham’s Jokes,” Art Journal (Fall 1992): 18-27.

▪James Luna. “”I’ve Always Wanted To Be an American Indian,” Art Journal (Fall 1992): 44-50.

UW Grading Scale.docx


Catalog Description: 
Explores how contemporary artists have deconstructed cultural misrepresentations of gender, sex, sexual orientation, race, and ethnicity, and have developed alternative representations that embrace diversity and difference. Offered: AWSpS.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
January 19, 2024 - 8:55pm