Spring 2024 - CA 319W E100

Critical Writing in the Arts (3)

Class Number: 6366

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Jan 8 – Apr 12, 2024: Wed, 5:30–8:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

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



Examines aspects of critical writing associated with the historical and contemporary 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.


This class will provide students the opportunity to develop and put into practice critical writing and editing skills for writing critically about the fine and performing arts. The coursework is designed to allow students to write within their own field of interest. We will learn these skills by reading, researching, and analyzing a selection of popular and academic arts criticism across disciplines; and by writing, workshopping, and collaborating on writing assignments (in-class and take-home) such as critical reviews, interviews, artist statements, and project statements. Our focus will be on closely examining, unpacking, and revising each writing assignment 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 online exhibitions and performance events.


  • 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.
  • To develop a scope of arts practice that ranges from individual work, to local, national, and global trends


  • Attendance and active participation 10%
  • Blog posts and weekly short writing assignments 15%
  • Peer profile/interview 15%
  • Artist/critic's statement 15%
  • Critical Review 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.


Unless otherwise indicated via online hyperlinks included in the weekly syllabus below, all readings for this course have been posted as pdf documents to Canvas


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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