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ART H 400 D: Art History And Criticism

Contesting the Status Quo: Art & Social Action Since 1960

Meeting Time: 
MW 11:30am - 12:50pm
ART 317
Kolya Rice
Kolya Rice

Syllabus Description:

AH 400 Contesting the Status Quo: Art and Social Action since 1960

AH 400 Art and Social Action Syllabus Winter 2023.docx

Kolya Rice     

Office/Hours: Art 302: M/W 10:30-11:20 & by appointment


In some sense, all art is political.  That is to say, all art takes a stand—or is positioned by interpreters so that it does—in relation to the dominant values of its time.  Since the 1960s, however, one might say that artists have become particularly conscious of the political resonances of their art.  Amidst a general climate of social unrest and direct action, from the civil rights movements in the early sixties to the momentous events of 1968, the emphasis of many artists increasingly shifted from aesthetic to sociopolitical concerns.  Rather than present a broad survey of this trend, this class will examine several of the most significant, self-conscious politics of artistic production from the 1960s to the present.  Though a great deal of the class material will be presented in lecture format, discussion will be encouraged at all times.  Although no previous art history experience is required, some familiarity and interest in contemporary art, history, politics, and/or critical theory is recommended.

There is no required textbook. Class readings have been selected from many sources and will be available on Canvas as PDF files. 

Student responsibilities:
Midterm Exam: 25%
Final Exam: 30%
2 Review Essays 25% 
Active Participation 20% (Please note, active participation assumes that you thoroughly read and think about course materials in advance of course meetings, and that you meaningfully contribute to discussions.)

UW Grading Scale.docx

Course Outcomes:

I. Learn Actively - Learning is a personal, interactive process that results in greater expertise and a more comprehensive understanding of the world.

  • Employ interdisciplinary methods of visual analysis
  • Explore the relationships between art and its social, cultural, political, historical and/or religious contexts
  • Develop interdisciplinary knowledge of the local, national and / or global experience of communities framed by intersections between class, race, gender, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and other identities
  • Relate personal artistic experience to discipline-based methods of analysis. Work with others to explore and appreciate the variety of responses art provokes
  • Reflect explicitly on how one’s global position (perspective, affinities, and values) shapes what is experienced and how it informs judgments
  • Demonstrate understanding of the historical, political, scientific, cultural and/or socioeconomic interrelationships between the local and the global


II. Think Critically, Creatively and Reflectively - Reason and imagination are fundamental to problem solving and critical examination of ideas.

  • Use a variety of approaches to think critically about and reflect on personal assumptions and alternative views regarding issues of power and inequality as they relate to issues of the visual representation of sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and religion
  • Identify key art historical issues, determine the assumptions underlying arguments, and recognize the way that historical and cultural context affect meaning
  • Explore and articulate various ways that art represents cultural identity which is shaped by varying degrees of power and privilege, in relation to both a local context and interconnected world
  • Confront issues of rapid and violent social and technological change and their effect on art

III. Communicate with Clarity and Originality - The ability to exchange ideas and information is essential to personal growth, productive work, and societal vitality.

  • Discuss multiple interpretations of course content as it relates to structures of power and inequality using discipline-appropriate concepts and theories, and articulate how and why these structures inform personal, professional, and social identities
  • Demonstrate intercultural understanding and sensitivity by integrating cross-cultural verbal and non-verbal communication practices and skills when engaging with others
  • Articulate points of view while using details of a work of art or its context as evidence
  • Demonstrate proficiency to conduct guided research using a wide variety of materials from multiple international points of view
  • Present results of research and analysis to classmates in verbal and written form
  • Use appropriate sources and technologies to gather and present information
  • Question and reflect on assumptions, statements and information made throughout the course by the text, instructors, and students
  • Demonstrate effective use of interdisciplinary methodologies employed in the course to visually analyze works of art
  • Contribute ideas and information individually and in a group dynamic


IV. Interact in Diverse and Complex EnvironmentsSuccessful negotiation through our increasingly complex, interdependent, and global society requires knowledge and awareness of self and others, as well as enhanced interaction skills.

  • Engage with complex differences between disparate cultures as manifest through social inequities. As part of this practice, students will recognize and articulate their understanding of diverse perspectives
  • Collaborate with peers to discuss course material and plan for presentations or group papers
  • Demonstrate the ability to listen for, to and across differences, by articulating one’s own frame of reference and its application in reference to others
  • Work collaboratively and be able to translate those experiences to mutually advantageous interactions on campus and with the larger community
  • Demonstrate the ability to be civil during discussions and respectful of opposing views

School of Art Policies

Religious Accommodations Policy


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 of indicating academic dishonesty to the School of Art and the University of Washington. For further information, visit:

For a full schedule of topics and readings please see the syllabus:

AH 400 Art and Social Action Syllabus Winter 2023.docx

Catalog Description: 
Courses on special topics, frequently by visiting faculty, which cannot be offered on a continuing basis. Consult art history office for subjects offered.
GE Requirements: 
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Last updated: 
November 7, 2022 - 12:06pm