Fall 2019 - CA 117 E100

Visual Art and Culture I (3)

Class Number: 10558

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 6:30 PM – 9:20 PM
    HCC 1800, Vancouver

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 12, 2019
    7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
    HCC 1700, Vancouver



An introduction to the visual arts of the nineteenth century. Formal and thematic approaches to the arts will be introduced, with attention to the social, institutional, national, and international contexts of art. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 167 may not take this course for further credit. Breadth-Humanities.


This course provides an introduction to the complex ways in which social and political change, and ideologies of gender, class, race and ethnicity, worked to shape aspects of 19th century visual culture in Europe and North America. Emphasis will be placed on the roles played by industrialization, political revolution, rapid urban growth, global commerce, and the new media technologies of an expanding consumer culture in defining a wide range of visual culture. Throughout the term we will also examine different representations and debates around the idea of modernity and the “modern.” Since the time period under investigation has often been called “The First Modern Century”, we will pay particular attention to shifting ideas related to labour and leisure, urban social space and spectacle, and issues bearing on Euro-American expansion of empires in relation to indigenous populations, throughout the 19th century to turn of the twentieth century up to WWI.

Importantly, this class is not intended to be all-inclusive in which each and every monument contributing to the “canon” of Western art is studied. Therefore, we will also consider the constructed nature of the discipline of art history in order to trouble assumptions, both historical and contemporary, regarding the nature of art, its relation to different social and political institutions, and issues of patronage and viewing publics. Furthermore, through an introduction to critical and historical methods, students will develop the basic tools and terminology for analyzing visual culture, a skill set of crucial importance in understanding the barrage of images and technological stimulus at play in our postmodern world.


  • In-Class Midterm Exam 20%
  • Annotated Bibliography Assignment 20%
  • Group Poster Research Project 30%
  • Participation and Contribution to Group Project 5%
  • Final Exam 25%


Midterm Exam:
Since class lectures will concentrate on the close analysis of specific images, as well as on broad historical developments and critical themes concerning the visual arts, you will be provided with analytical tools to “read” images and develop critical thinking skills in preparation for the midterm and final exams. The in-class midterm exam will focus and test your ability to work closely with images and the identification of key components of art objects (form, content, and context), and will also test the ability to identify and create a written argument using visual art objects.  

Group Poster Project and Individual Annotated Bibliography Assignment:
In groups of 5-6 students, you will research a problem concerning an artwork in Vancouver from the 19th to early 20th century and construct a virtual “poster” as a group, and an annotated bibliography as an individual, to assist in presenting your findings. Each group “poster” will be the focus of a creative digital presentation to the class, accessible in an online format. A handout with further instructions will be circulated in the early weeks of class and your first group meetings will begin shortly thereafter as part of your course work.  

Final examination:
You will write a two and one half hour final exam on the images and issues covered in the course since the midterm exam. The exam will consist of a mix of slide identifications and comparisons and short essay answer responses based on the format completed in the in-class midterm. You will be responsible for the content of lectures that is not covered by readings and only the images listed on a predetermined final master slide list sheet. Images and weekly slide lists can be reviewed on the course’s Canvas site.  

**note** Discussion sessions during class provide you with an opportunity to engage in a close formal analysis of images informed by lectures and readings. Your active involvement in these discussions is the best preparation for in-class writing/note-taking, exams and the group project. Also, class participation/contribution  will be assessed as 5% of your total grade.

Policy Regarding Absences from Class and Late Submissions:

Time management and the successful completion of deadlines is a key part of the university experience (and life in general), and as adults I respect your right to make these decisions for yourself. Therefore, how you budget your time and weigh the consequences of your individual choices regarding your academic career is entirely up to you. While we will not be taking attendance in the lecture, we will have a good idea of who is missing from class (especially if it is on a consistent basis or during in-class group discussion and assignments). Do contact me if you anticipate being away from class due to illness or extenuating circumstances for which you have clear documentation (i.e. a doctor’s note), or if you are experiencing difficulty with class material.  

The annotated bibliography and final group project are to be uploaded to Canvas on the stated deadlines. Late assignments will be penalized with a 10% daily deduction and no written instructor comments/feedback (remember, this includes weekends). In other words, an assignment that would have received 80% (A-) if it were handed in on time, would receive 70% (B-) if handed in one day late. Regardless of any late penalties, you must complete all assignments and write both exams to pass the course.   

Policy Regarding Communication with Professor and/or Teaching Assistant: We are available during my office hours to consult further about class material and respond to questions. Please feel to drop in to meet with us. As such, you should only use email as a tool to set up a one-on-one meeting with me if office hours conflict with your schedule. Use the subject line “Meeting request.” Your message should include at least two times when you would like to meet and a brief (one-two sentence) description of the reason for the meeting. Emails sent for any other reason will not be considered or acknowledged. I strongly encourage you to ask questions about the syllabus and assignments during class time and breaks. For more in-depth discussions (such as guidance on assignments) please plan to meet in person or set up a phone meeting. Our conversations should take place in person or over the phone rather than via email, thus allowing us to get to know each other better and fostering a more collegial learning atmosphere.  

Policy Regarding Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious academic offence, and Simon Fraser University has a zero tolerance approach to the act of representing the words, ideas, images or data of another person as your own. This includes handing in the same or similar paper to more than one class. For more information on how to avoid plagiarism, please see the following information and link to an on-line interactive tutorial at: https://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/academic-integrity/plagiarism-tutorial



Stephen Eisenman et al, Nineteenth Century Art, fourth edition. Thames & Hudson: 2011. 

**The 2007 3rd edition is OK too, but the pages will change from those listed on the lecture schedule.
ISBN: 9780500288887

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html