Spring 2020 - SA 317 D100

Sociology of Art Forms (S) (4)

Class Number: 3131

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 6 – Apr 9, 2020: Tue, Thu, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Instructor:

    Gary Teeple
    1 778 782-4734
    Office: AQ 5064
  • Prerequisites:

    SA 101 or 150 or 201W.



This course may focus variously on one or all of the following: the social origins and functions of art, sociological theories of aesthetics, and contemporary issues in art, such as the fate of art in modern society, popular culture, mass media, ideology in art. Students with credit for SA 416 may not take this course for further credit.


Everywhere and throughout history humans have expressed themselves in art forms. Is artistic expression, therefore, intrinsic to human nature? Is art necessary? Is there a single abstract significance to all art forms? The consideration of these questions is the principal task of this course. We shall pursue it mainly through an examination of the aesthetic theories of Hegel and, secondarily, through those of Marx, and then contemporary theories.

Within the framework of these theories, we shall examine several other questions, which may include the origin and development of art, other theories of art, the fate of art in modern society, the meaning of postmodernism, the feminist critique, and so on. These questions will be considered in the last third of the course, which is a review of the developments of modern art, from the mid-nineteenth century to the present.

The heart of the first part of the course is the study of the aesthetic theory of Hegel; because so much of modern and post-modern analysis of art begins with or rests on Hegel, at least implicitly, this emphasis is easily justified. A firm understanding of Hegel on art is the first key aim of the course.

After Hegel, the work of Marx or Marxists on aesthetics has been singularly important in the history of art, either as a ‘debate with his ghost’ or as the eminence grise behind many theories. The understanding of how Marx or his approach further developed the appreciation of art is our second objective. Here we shall try to uncover certain analytical tools for grasping the social basis and significance of art.

Third, we shall employ these analytical concepts to examine elements of the development of modern art, post-modernism, and, as time permits, other contemporary themes and issues.


The course will provide the student with:

  1. a broad grasp of key aesthetic theories,
  2. a critical analysis of contemporary theories,
  3. a broad understanding of the many shifts in the development of modern art,
  4. an appreciation of the power and potential of the uses of art.


  • Weekly study notes 20%
  • Analysis of a work of art 30%
  • Formal essay 50%


Grading: Where a final exam is scheduled and the student does not write the exam or withdraw from the course before the deadline date, an N grade will be assigned. Unless otherwise specified on the course syllabus, all graded assignments for this course must be completed for a final grade other than N to be assigned. An N is considered as an F for the purposes of scholastic standing.

Grading System: The Undergraduate Course Grading System is as follows:

A+ (95-100) | A (90-94) | A- (85-89) | B+ (80-84) | B (75-79) | B- (70-74) | C+ (65-69) | C (60-64) | C- (55-59) | D (50-54) | F (0-49) | N*
*N standing to indicate the student did not complete course requirements

Academic Dishonesty and Misconduct Policy: The Department of Sociology & Anthropology follows SFU policy in relation to grading practices, grade appeals (Policy T 20.01) and academic dishonesty and misconduct procedures (S10.01‐S10.04). Unless otherwise informed by your instructor in writing, in graded written assignments you must cite the sources you rely on and include a bibliography/list of references, following an instructor-approved citation style.  It is the responsibility of students to inform themselves of the content of SFU policies available on the SFU website.

Centre for Accessible Learning: Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need classroom or exam accommodations are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (1250 Maggie Benston Centre) as soon as possible to ensure that they are eligible and that approved accommodations and services are implemented in a timely fashion.



H. Paolucci (ed. & trans.) Hegel: On the Arts (A scanned copy will be available)

W. T. Stace, The Philosophy of Hegel, (pages 439-483) [handout]

A.S. Vazquez, Art and Society: Essays in Marxist Aesthetics.

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