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ARTHIST 3JA3 The History of Art 1970 to the Present

Academic Year: Fall 2017

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Kristin Patterson


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 434

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23719

Office Hours: Tuesdays, 6:00-7:00 pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

  • Students will gain exposure to a wide range of contemporary art practices
  • Students will gain an understanding of major themes, artists and issues in contemporary art 
  • Introduction and discussion of contemporary art theory and criticism
  • Students will gain an appreciation of the intersections between art and the social, political and cultural events and changes of the last forty years
  • Identify and discuss multiple relationships between contemporary art and broader social and cultural issues as ideology, gender, race, or ethnicity.
  • Students will continue to develop observation and critical assessment skills
  • Students will refine research and writing skills through course assignments


Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Students will be responsible for reading articles, watching interviews/videos and visiting websites provided on Avenue to Learn under weekly headings.

Method of Assessment:

Midterm Test, October 3rd, 20%
Group Presentation, dates as assigned (weeks 10-13), 15%
Research Paper (8-10 pages, 2,000-2,500 words), due Sunday, November 12th, 25%
In-class Discussions and Participation, weekly, 10%
Final Exam, date TBA, as scheduled by Registrar’s Office, 30%

**Details of all course assignments will be posted on Avenue to Learn>Content>Assignments.

Students in this course will have received 10% of their grade in this course by November 10, 2017.


Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

All written assignments are to be submitted via Avenue to Learn by 11:30 pm on the due date specified above. Late assignments will be penalized 5% per day for up to 5 days. Assignments more than 5 days late will not be accepted.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

Conceptual Art 
Art and Identity
Performance and Body Art
Land, Environment, and Public Art 
Video Art 
Art, Activism, and Censorship
Institutional Critique
Installation Art
New Media Art


Other Course Information:

Note to Students:
We will be viewing and discussing controversial material. Many contemporary artworks focus on politics of difference and raise issues around racial and gender identities, oppression and resistance. Some artworks may express viewpoints with which you do not agree. Some contemporary art is made expressly with the intent of provoking new ways of seeing or thinking about art or the world around us. I urge each student to express their views in a respectful manner in class and if for any reason you find the material difficult to deal with please come and see me.