Spring 2022 - CA 319W E100

Critical Writing in the Arts (3)

Class Number: 7732

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

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

  • Prerequisites:

    60 units including at least six units in CA (or FPA) history/theory courses.



Examines aspects of critical writing associated with the fine and performing arts and encourages students to participate as writers in the artistic and cultural debates of their day. Forms examined will include but not be limited to reviews, articles, descriptive synopses for exhibition and festival programs, curatorial essays, project proposals and artists' statements. Students with credit for CA (or FPA) 319 may not take this course for further credit. Students with credit for FPA 319W may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


In this class students will develop and put into practice a set of skills for writing critically about the fine and performing arts. These skills will be honed in two concurrent and mutually informing ways: by reading, researching, and analyzing a selection of popular and academic arts criticism across the disciplines; and by completing and workshopping a number of in-class and take-home writing assignments. In both cases, our focus will be on closely examining, unpacking, and revising each piece of writing to ensure its substantive and stylistic engagement with the work being represented and/or critiqued, and its suitability for its targeted audience. Our goal, above all, is to become honest and intelligent communicators about our own and others’ artistic practice. To that end, in addition to responding to a range of works that will be shown in-class, students will be asked to attend and comment on a selection of exhibitions and live performance events in the city.


  • To introduce, through practice, different written formats (reviews, artist statements, interviews, position pieces) associated with a critical analysis of the arts.
  • To develop an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of different aesthetic theories and critical approaches to the fine and performing arts.
  • To use analytical and interpretative strategies to advance arguments, ideas and position statements, both written and verbal, about the nature of interdisciplinary artistic expression.
  • To analyze and evaluate in words the formal elements and expressive ideas of works of art and performance across a range of media.
  • To develop and hone students’ critical thinking and writing skills.


  • Attendance and active participation 10%
  • Blog posts and weekly short writing assignments 15%
  • Peer profile/interview 15%
  • Artist/critic's statement 15%
  • Review essay 20%
  • Position piece 25%



Though not required, it would be helpful if students who have access to their own laptop computers or tablets (and adapters, if needed) could bring them to each class in order to help facilitate the sharing of in-class writing exercises and online examples.


Readings will be posted online to Canvas.


Readings will be posted online to Canvas

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


Teaching at SFU in spring 2022 will involve primarily in-person instruction, with safety plans in place.  Some courses will still be offered through remote methods, and if so, this will be clearly identified in the schedule of classes.  You will also know at enrollment whether remote course components will be “live” (synchronous) or at your own pace (asynchronous).

Enrolling in a course acknowledges that you are able to attend in whatever format is required.  You should not enroll in a course that is in-person if you are not able to return to campus, and should be aware that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who may need class or exam accommodations, including in the context of remote learning, are advised to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112) as early as possible in order to prepare for the spring 2022 term.