AH 340 Syllabus
Contemporary Art: 1945 to 1970
Fall 2017
Monday and Wednesday 2:30 to 3:45 PM
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Phone: 714.289.3569
Moulton Center 217 A

Office Hours by appointment:
1 to 3:30 PM
1 to 2 PM
1 to 3:30 PM


click here for a printable syllabus



Course Description

AH 340 - Contemporary Art 1945 to 1970 surveys the major artistic developments in Europe, America, and Asia between the close of World War II and the emergence of postmodernism, including abstract expressionism, pop art, minimalism, conceptualism, and site-specific art.

(Offered fall semester)

Objectives & Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:


Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the major artists, movements, and events that shaped contemporary art practice between 1945 and 1970;


Describe and discuss the formal/stylistic/material qualities of works of art produced between 1945 and 1970;


Discuss the relationship of art theories and critical debates to specific artists and art movements of the period;


and Analyze the relationships that existed between innovations in artistic practice and the social, cultural, and political changes that took place in Europe and the United States between the end of World War II and the end of the Vietnam War.


Program Learning Outcomes
Students will be able to:

Write both descriptively and analytically about works of art in a variety of media;


Write an independent research paper that uses visual analysis and scholarly research to develop and support a thesis;


Conduct advanced art historical research using the full range of scholarly resources; and


Recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines and apply specific theoretical perspectives to their research projects.


General Education Learning Outcomes
7AI Artistic Inquiry: students compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze conceptually an artistic form at a baccalaureate/pre-professional level.
7SI Social Inquiry: employs theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.



Instructional Website
This class will be taught from the instructional website The Slide Projector at, www.theslideprojector.com. Lecture presentations, assignments, and other course materials will be available for you at this site and you will need to access it regularly. Additionally, two exams will be taken outside of class on Blackboard.
Required Textbook

Foster, Krauss, Bois, Buchloh. Art Since 1900, vol. 2. Thames & Hudson. Third Edition. ISBN978050029723

Recommended Texts

Barnet, Sylvan. A Short Guide to Writing About Art. Boston: Pearson Education Inc. (any edition, 10th or 11th preferred)

A Short Guide to Writing About Art
Kristine Stiles. Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of Artists' Writings. University of California Press: 2011.

Osborne, Richard and Dan Sturgis. Art Theory for Beginners. Hanover, New Hampshire: Steerforth Press, 2009.


Art Theory for Beginners
Jean Robertson. Themes of Contemporary Art: Visual Art after 1980 [Paperback] (2nd). Oxford University Press: 2009.



Instructional Strategies
Students will work toward course objectives through: lecture presentations; student reports on readings, active participation in class discussions; in class partner exercises; reading assignments; writing assignments; exams; viewing images, videos, and audio representations of art from the prehistoric era to the medieval period; and viewing of an off-campus exhibition that will require a commute, and may entail a parking fee, and/or entrance fee.



Major Study Units
  • Critiquing art history and its institutions
  • Postcolonialism
  • The Feminist movement
  • The posthuman body
    • Gaze Theory
  • The end of the avant-garde?
  • Postmodernism
  • Meta Modernism
    • Appropriation
  • Globalism
    • The Simulacra
  • New Genres
    • Identity politics
  • Critiques for the future
    • Culture Wars



Methods of Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives; the frequency and quality of their contributions to in-class discussion; their ability to make oral and written critical observations about the artists, movements, and concepts presented in the course; the quality of the writing they present in written assignments; and on their ability to demonstrate growth in their understanding of, and application of art historical methodologies for analyzing contemporary art from WWII to the end of the Vietnam War.

There are 500 points possible, which will be earned through the following graded components:


Class Participation - 15%

Students will earn up to 75 participation points through the following activities:


• Actively and consistently contributing to in-class discussions and applying theoretical ideas to works to earn up to 25 participation points;


• Voluntarily reporting on assigned readings during class to earn up to 25 participation points through meaningful contributions to multiple conversations over the semester;


• Attending one lecture in the Visual Thinker Lecture Series and submitting a VTLS Report worth 25 points. Please be reminded that Art and Art History majors are required by the department to attend all Visual Thinker Lectures.


Visual Analysis/Museum Paper10%

Students are required to see a professional exhibition, in person, featuring contemporary works relevant to our course of study (made between 1945 and 1970), and analyze a work on view using a formalist methodology. This assignment will require students to commute to a relevant venue off campus, pay for parking and/or an entrance fee. The Museum Paper may earn up to 50 points.


Research Paper 45%

Over the course of the semester, you will be asked to identify an artist, body of work, or issue relevant to the study of contemporary art between WWII and the end of the Vietnam War in which to conduct research. In response to this research, you will write a paper in Chicago Manual of Style (no bibliography) that demonstrates your ability to apply concepts, theory, and discipline specific analytical methodologies to a minimum of three works of art.

To oversee progress on your research and writing, a preparatory assignment worth 25 points will be submitted early in the semester that requires you to report your topic, sources, and an outline of discussion points. Additionally, each student will be asked to share a rough draft of their paper with a fellow AH 340 student. During this review, you may earn up to 50 points for correcting CMS citation errors, identifying key sections, and providing constructive feedback for improvement to your partner. The final Research Paper may earn up to 150 points.


Exams 30%

Students will demonstrate learning through two exams worth up to 50 points each, and taken outside of class on Blackboard page at https://blackboard.chapman.edu. Due to the nature of online testing, and the multi-day duration offered to submit, exams may not be made up. Please use the class schedule to plan accordingly. A final examination in the form of a Socratic Circle will be worth 50 points and will be conducted in class during our scheduled final exam period.


Extra Credit

Students are limited to earning a maximum of 25 points, 5% of the total points possible (500), in extra credit points during the semester. Any points earned above this cap will NOT be applied to the final grade.



Points will be earned on writing assignments through committed consideration of the material, demonstration of learned concepts and language, and evidence of critical thinking. In addition to the individual requirements, each writing assignment will earn points based on rigorous analysis through the skilled application of the art historical methodologies, as well as pointed and thoughtful responses to the questions proposed.
100 to 97%
500 - 483 points

Writing demonstrates excellence in both articulation and critical thinking. Art historical methodologies are used thoughtfuly and with exceptional skill. All questions are answered thoroughly, and disussion points carry beyond basic responses with sophistication. Credible academic sources were employed to support the author's positions, and Chicago Manual of Style citation rules were carefully followed. The written assignment leaves little to no room for improvement, and demonstrates committed interest in the discipline.

A -
96 to 90%
482 - 448 points
B +
89 to 87%
447 - 433 points

Writing demonstrates clear focus and an above average consideration of the subject matter. While all questions have been answered, there is room for improvement in carrying the analysis and discussion beyond a basic response. The work exhibits potential for excellence however, a clearer application and understanding of the art historical methodologies is needed. Author has met the requirements for research and citations, but the stated positions could be significantly served by additional research.

86 to 84%
432 - 418 points
B -
83 to 80%
417 - 398 points
C +
79 to 77%
397 - 383 points

Most of the material is understood, but the focus is not entirely clear, and analysis is cursory. Question responses could be more fully realized, and the material, more thoroughly examined. Citation issues are present, little research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing somewhat difficult to understand.

76 to 74%
382 - 368 points
C -
73 to 70%
367 - 348 points
D +
69 to 67%
347 - 333 points

Writing demonstrates little understanding or connection with the material and is flawed in content and form. Question responses do not provide evidence of critical thinking. Citation issues are present, no research was executed in support of the author's positions, and/or sources are not credible or academic. There are issues with language that make the writing very difficult to understand.

66 - 64%
332 - 318 points
D -
63 - 60%
317 - 298 points
< 59%
297 - 0

Work fails to meet any requirements satisfactorily.



Assignment is incomplete but shows potential. Student is offered one additional class day to revise, add to, and re-submit the assignment.



Instructor Policies
Commitment to the Conversation

Conversation and debate will be central to the learning experience this semester. Art historians do not work in secluded spaces that are entirely disconnected from the world around them. Given the importance of engagement, students will be expected to fully commit to in-class dialogues and will agree to refrain from texting, emailing, and completing out-of-class assignments during lecture. Laptop, tablet, and smart phone use will only be permitted when the devices are being used for the purpose of understanding AH 340 material. Seriously!!! Students found to be using laptops and tablets during class for activities other than those related to our undertaking may be asked to leave class until their full attention can be directed to our course.


Regular attendance is mandatory. You are permitted two unexcused absence without damage to your grade. More than two missed classes will potentially lower your grade, and missing four or more classes will put you at risk of failing the class.

Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes after class begins should expect to be marked absent for the entire class session.

Respect is Key
We may consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter in this class. It is assumed that each of us undertakes this learning endeavor with honorable intention and a commitment to understanding diverse perspectives and histories. When this is difficult, we agree to keep an open mind and to respect all views and identities, even those with which we do not agree. While engaging in class activities, we agree to refrain from using derogatory, inflammatory, or otherwise disrespectful language. We do such, fully committed to the principles of academic freedom, holding “that censorship is always suspect, that intimidation is always repugnant, and that attempts to discourage constitutionally protected expression are antithetical to the central focus of the university's mission: education and discovery of new knowledge,” and that these principles are “accompanied by a corresponding principle of responsibility.” (from the Chapman University Faculty Manual, 2016)

Please submit coursework that is due on Blackboard by the beginning of class whether you will be absent or in attendance.

Late Assignments
You may submit one assignment, one class day late. The late assignment will not be marked down, however any assignments turned in more than one class late, or in addition to the one accepted assignment, will only receive credit at the discretion of the instructor.



Chapman University Policies
Academic Integrity Policy
Chapman University is a community of scholars which emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and for submitting coursework completed this semester, for this class. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated anywhere in the university. Academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor/administrator and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including expulsion. Please see the full description of Chapman University's policy on Academic Integrity at www.chapman.edu/academics/academic-integrity/index.aspx
Students with Disabilities
In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. Upon recommendation of the Center for Academic Success, adaptations of teaching methods, class materials, including text and reading materials or testing may be made as needed to provide for equitable participation.
Equity and Diversity Policy

Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity. Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy: at www.chapman.edu/faculty-staff/human-resources/eoo.aspx. Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy.



Writing Center
All Chapman students are welcome to meet with Writing Center tutors, who can help you with any part of the writing process, from understanding the assignment and finding a significant topic to editing your final drafts. The Writing Center is located in DeMille Hall 130. To guarantee time with a tutor, call (714) 997-6828 or email tutor@chapman.edu to schedule an appointment.
Food Pantry
Students in need of access to the food pantry should contact Sherri Maeda-Akau in the Office of Residence Life and First Year Experience at maeda@chapman.edu.
Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted, make sure you are in safe place. Call 911 in an emergency, Chapman University Public Safety at (714)997-6721 and, Chapman University ’s Sexual Assault Information Line at (714) 744-7000. Contact Orange PD at (714) 744-7444.

Student Psychological Counseling
If you are in need of help or support immediately you can contact:
CU Student Psychological Counseling - (714) 997-6778
Suicide Prevention Hotline - (800) 273-8255
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline - (800) 662-HELP
National AIDS/STD Info Hotline - (800) 458-5231




Class Schedule and Required Reading
This is a tentative schedule that may change. Assignment directions and due dates will be posted on The Slide Projector. Updates will be announced in class, on lecture presentations, and modified on the Syllabus page of The Slide Projector.
Discussion Topic
Assignment & Reading Due
Second Edition
Third Edition
August 28
August 30
The Modern Avant-Garde
September 4

Labor Day

September 6
American Art Before WWII
Pages 363 - 368
Pages 368 - 392
September 11
Emigres/Universal Voices
Pages 375 - 386
Pages 399 - 410
September 13
New York Becomes the Center
Thesis Report Due
September 18
Breaking It Up
Pages 387 - 391
Pages 411 - 415
September 20
A Problem for Critics
September 25
Existential Angst
Pages 400 - 405, 459 - 463, & 502 - 507
Pages 424 -429,483 -487, & 534 - 539
September 27
Seeking Transcendence
Exam 1 Due
October 2
Pages 369 - 374 & 392 - 397
Pages 393 - 398, & 416 - 423
October 4
Prowling in the Wilderness
Pages 406 - 410, 464 - 469
Pages 430 - 434, & 488 - 493
October 9
The Gap in Between
October 11
Signs of the Times
Pages 442 - 448, 483 - 487
Pages 466 - 472, & 515 - 519
Research Paper Plan Due
October 16
Consuming America
Visual Analysis/Museum Paper Due
October 18
Through the Surface
Pages 453 - 458, 513 - 518
Pages 477 - 482, & 545 - 550
October 23
Action vs. Abstraction
Pages 477 - 482
Pages 509 - 514
October 25
Leaping into Voids
Pages 411 - 416, 449 - 452, & 519 - 523
Pages 435 - 440, 473 - 476, & 551 - 555
October 30
Pages 436 - 441 & 488 - 512
Pages 460 - 465, & 520 - 525
November 1
Exam 2 Due
November 6
Anti Form
Pages 578 - 581
Pages 610 - 615
Rough Draft Share Due
November 8
Depoliticized Media Spectacle
Pages 429 - 435, 530 - 539
Pages 453 - 459, & 562 - 567
November 13

Considering Site & Concept

Pages 549 - 577
Pages 581 - 584
November 15
Process Art
Pages 524 - 529, 544 - 548 & 553 - 558
Pages 556 - 561, 576 - 580, & 585 - 590
November 20
Thanksgiving Recess
November 22
November 28
Art in Flux
Research Paper Due
November 30
Performing the Body
December 5
Moving Towards Collapse
Pages 540 - 543
Pages 572 - 575
December 7
The End of the Avant-Garde?
December 13
Socratic Circle Final Exam 10:45 to 1:15 PM



Important Dates
Late Registration
The last day to add courses is Friday, September 8.
Drop Deadline
Students wishing to drop the course without record must do so by Friday, September 8. The last day to withdraw from a course, or change grading option to P/NP is Friday, November 3.
Final Exam
The in-class final exam for this course is mandatory, and will not be offered at an alternative date, except under extenuating circumstances. The instructor understands that the holidays and holiday travel come with much urgency and pressure. Nonetheless, the hours set aside for the final exam are a part of your earned credit and as such, are an important component of your grade. Our final exam will be held on Wednesday, December 13 from 10:45 to 1:15 PM.
Grades must be submitted by the instructor by January 1.