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Kingsborough Community College of the City University of New York

 Department of Art

 Art 34 – Survey of Art History: Renaissance to Present



Professor: Gwendolyn Shaw

Professor’s contact information: Course website:

Course Description: Introduction to the visual arts, past and present. Basic elements in appreciating the great achievements in painting, sculpture and architecture. Aesthetic and societal considerations.

Flexible Core: Creative Expressions (Group C) 3 Credits, 3 Hours.

Pre-Requisites: None. Co-requisites: None.

 Art Department Student Learning Outcomes for Art History:

  1. Inquiry and Analysis: Students will demonstrate an ability to write and speak in class about artworks in terms of their formal qualities, as well as in terms of the artwork’s contextual and historical
  2. Critical and Creative Thinking: Students will be able to articulate the formal and stylistic similarities and differences between artworks over various periods and styles of art and apply various interpretations and analyses across historical
  3. Written Communication: Students will demonstrate their knowledge of artworks through a variety of types of writing, including analytic exercises, reflective writing, visual analyses, exam question responses, and research
  4. Oral Communication: Students will be able to discuss works of art verbally, using acquired art-specific vocabulary, during classroom discussions and, where possible, in- class
  5. Informational and Technological Literacy: Students will demonstrate their knowledge and use of digital materials and resources, using databases such as JSTOR and ARTSTOR, online collaboration through learning management systems such as Blackboard, and through their use of e-books, museum websites, and other art-specific online
  6. Intercultural Knowledge: Students will be able to explain connections between Western art and works of art from outside the European tradition (e.g., Africa, Asia, the Middle East, etc.) across various time
  7. Teamwork and Problem Solving: Students with different skill levels will be able to assist each other in learning art historical material and methods through group projects or in-class group assignments, and by providing peer
  8. Civic Knowledge and Ethical Reasoning: Students will demonstrate an understanding of how art simultaneously reflects and shapes world history, politics, religion and culture through their study of art history, the role of museums in communities, how art contributes to the formation of identities, issues of cultural patrimony, and other contemporary and developing issues in

CUNY Pathways Student Learning Outcomes for Group C, Creative Expression:

  1. Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view (reading-based field assignment)
  2. Evaluate evidence and arguments critically or analytically (field assignment and the Art 31 Departmental Final Exam)
  3. Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions (field assignment, essay questions on the final exam, and other in-class written and oral discussions)
  4. Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of a discipline or interdisciplinary field exploring creative expression (contextual and historical analysis, interpretation, evaluating evidence, reading, research, and visual analysis)
  5. Analyze how arts from diverse cultures of the past serve as a foundation for those of the present, and describe the significance of works of art in the societies that created them (contextual and historical analysis and visual compare and contrast exercises)
  6. Articulate how meaning is created in the arts or communications and how experience is interpreted and conveyed (contextual, historical and visual analysis)
  7. Demonstrate knowledge of the skills involved in the creative process (creative processes, analysis of materials)
  8. Use appropriate technologies to conduct research and to communicate (ARTSTOR, Blackboard, CUNY+, JSTOR, My Arts Lab and other technological sources)

Materials: resources, plus course packet to be distributed.

Course Outline:


Week 1: Introduction

June 20: Art history: Why bother?

In class: I think, I see, I wonder. Make journals; watch Ways of Seeing. Reading for next class: D’Alleva, selections from Look

June 22: Tools of art history: Formal Analysis

In class: Discuss Formal analysis, practice our close looking skills, and work on developing critical visual literacy

 Reading for next class: Smarthistory, Toward the Renaissance: the-high-renaissance-an-introduction/; Choose one renaissance section to look over; plus The Protestant Reformation:

Assignment: What is formal analysis? In own words, describe what formal analysis is and how it is different from just describing what you see. Then, browse Smarthistory and find a work of art to practice your formal analysis skills on. 2 pages—Due June 27.


Week 2: A Brief History of Art: Renaissance to Modern

June 27: Renaissance to Rococo

In class: Lecture and discussion

 Reading for next class: Smarthistory, Becoming Modern: modern-an-introduction/; Immanuel Kant, “What is Enlightenment?”; Browse


June 29: Neoclassicism to Modern

In class: Discuss journal entry 1. Lecture and discussion

Reading for next class: Rika Burnham, If you don’t look, you don’t see anything. Selections from Danny Danziger, Museum.


 Week 3: Art in situ: Museums!

July 4: No class. Happy 4th  of July!


July 6: Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art. See assignment sheet.

Do some journals at the Met!


Week 4: About the Met; presentation schedule


July 11: Workshopping and presentations

In class: Met debrief; discuss journal entries 2 and 3. Discuss Burnham, Danziger readings and talk about cultural capital.

Reading for next class:


July 13: Visit to the Brooklyn Museum

In class: n/a

Reading for next class:


Assignment: Think about your experience at the Met. How was your experience at the Brooklyn Museum similar or different? What about the art and the way it was displayed was similar or different? Then, choose a work from the Brooklyn Museum and write a 1- 2 page formal analysis of it. 2-3 pages.


Week 5: Presentations

July 18:

In class: Brooklyn Museum debrief, presentations.

Reading for next class:


July 20:

In class: Discuss journal entry 4.

Reading for next class:


Week 6: Presentations and final prep

July 25:

In class: Discuss journal entry 5; housekeeping. Journal DUE

Reading for next class: Final Exam guidelines and prepwork.


July 27: Revisit the Metropolitan Museum of Art; no class


Week 7: Final Research and Exam

August 1: Final Project work; Final project due.


August 2: Final Exam Due



Final course grade will be determined as follows:

  • Journal    25%
  • “What is formal analysis” paper    10%
  • Museum Visits & Assignments                   20%
  • Participation    20%
  • Final    25%
Process and Research Journal

Each journal entry should have 3 components

  1. Choose a work of art from class or that you have encountered in person (from your neighborhood, your commute, or one of our museum visits). Identify the work and Sketch the work of art or object in question
  2. Provide some formal analysis of the work of art. What is it? What form does it take? How does that form impact the meaning of the work of art?
  3. Meta-cognitive reflection Describe what sorts of insight doing parts 1 and 2 gave you about the particular work of art. In other words, how did part 1 and part 2 help you to think more about the work or understand it?

Consider this a field notebook, or a thought or idea journal for you to jot down notes, research ideas, or things to share with the class, including your weekly presentation of a work that you found interesting or exciting.



What is formal analysis paper:

What is formal analysis? In own words, describe what formal analysis is and how it is different from just describing what you see. Then, browse Smarthistory and find a work of art to practice your formal analysis skills on. 2 pages—Due June 27.



Museum assignments

Distributed separately. Includes scavenger hunt and essays.




Includes attendance, presentations, and engagement with the subject matter.


Each student will complete two “artist biographies” for two different artists of different periods (pre and post 1800) to be submitted to the timeline.

In small groups based on your research into particular artists, students will write up “encyclopedia entries” for our timeline on art movements or periods that are within the span of the course. Students are responsible for two different movements of periods, but may work in different groups.

Your research and presentation material will be uploaded to a digital project space to create a course “textbook.” This is an archive of our work and how it engages with history

  • What is going on in the world?
  • Who is important? What gets remembered?
  • What is being made?


Extra Credit: Visit any cultural institution or place (or site) in New York and write a 1 page response (single spaced) to your experience. What did you see? Choose a single work that you have seen in person: What choices did the artist or curator make? Why? What did it communicate to you? How?


Final Exam: Introduce someone to this course: Remember that scavenger hunt we did at the Met in the beginning of this course? Now it’s your turn.


Design a thematic tour for someone to take at the Metropolitan Museum that would acquaint them with artwork that falls within the scope of this class. Your theme should be chosen before your visit, but you may change it with permission. Themes and learning outcomes/goals for your tour should be approved by July 25 in class (or via email).


You should include one work per each century we have discussed: 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th centuries, for a minimum of 5 works of art. Please give an introduction to and formal analysis of each work you have included and a statement describing why you have selected this particular work for your tour. How does it fit into your theme? Why is this work better than others to introduce someone to the time period or style? Please justify each of your choices with formal and contextual evidence.


NB: Other important museums (This is just a small selection!! Go forth and find your favorite!): Queens Museum of Art

PS1 (MoMA)

The Cloisters

National Museum of the American Indian The Morgan Library


Attendance Policy:


If you miss more than 1 class, you must complete an additional make-up assignment for each additional absence (two or more). Please email me for details.


A student who has been absent 15% of the total number of instructional hours that a class meets during a term or session may be considered excessively absent by the instructor. The instructor


may consider excessive absences as a factor in the assignment of a student’s grade. A maximum of 5.4 hours of absence time are allowed for art history course that meets 36 hours per semester (15% of 36 = 5.4). A student that misses more hours than is allowed by the college attendance policy will receive a grade of “WU” (unofficial withdrawal).


Access-ability Services:

Access-Ability Services (AAS) serves as a liaison and resource to the KCC community regarding disability issues, promotes equal access to all KCC programs and activities, and makes every reasonable effort to provide appropriate accommodations and assistance to students with disabilities. Your instructor will make the accommodations you need once you provide documentation from the Access-Ability office (D-205). Please contact AAS for assistance.



Plagiarism is the taking of someone else’s words and using them in your own work as if they were your own. In extreme cases, plagiarism can result in the dismissal of the offending student from the college. Please see the Kingsborough website on plagiarism for more information and ways to avoid committing plagiarism.


Please review CUNY’s policy on plagiarism, as it is grounds for dismissal from the college in extreme circumstances. Copies of the CUNY Statement on Plagiarism are available on the college’s website at:


Civility in the classroom:

Kingsborough Community College acknowledges that respect for self and others are the foundation of academic excellence. Respect for the opinions of others is very important in an academic environment. Courteous behavior and responses are expected. In the classroom, online or otherwise, any acts of harassment and/or discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or ability will not be tolerated. This statement can be found on the college’s website at: