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ARTHIST 3P03 Issues: Studio Criticism (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Angela Sheng


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 425

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23156


Office Hours: Mondays 2-3 pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

This course aims to introduce students in Art, Art History, Multi-media and other disciplines involved in the analysis and production of visual culture to some aspects of studio criticism, including artists’ own iterations and curatorial practices based on formal analysis, exhibition histories and theories, critical theories, and contemporary art discourses. This course requires students to 1) participate in class discussions; 2) engage directly with fourth-year Art students in their process of making art works in their studio environments and especially in their weekly Studio Criticisms on Thursday afternoons, 3) attend Visiting Artists’ lectures, and 4) assess and write about art works critically, commensurate with the course level.

At the end of the course, students will have gained some experiential insights into what is involved and required in writing about artists and art works in their current local and globalized world.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:


Barnet, Sylvan. 2015. A Short Guide to Writing about Art. Pearson. Mills: N 7476 .B37 2000

Buster, Kendall and Paula Crawford. 2007. The Critique Handbook, A sourcebook and Survival Guide. Pearson.

O’Neill, Paul. 2012. The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s). The MIT Press.[purchase requested and put on reserve at Mills for Mills Library]

Sullivan, Graeme. 2005. Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts. Sage Publications.

Mills: N 85 .S84 2005


Thornton, Sarah. 200m9. Seven Days in the Art World. W. W. Norton.

Thornton, Sarah. 2014. 33 Artists in 3 Acts. W. W. Norton.

[purchase requested for both and put on reserve at Mills Library]

Additional reading materials can be downloaded from JSTOR or Avenue to Learn.

Method of Assessment:

Students  will receive at least 20% of the final grade by March 15, 2019.

Report on the first studio visit relative to The Critique Handbook, due January 25, 2018 10 %

A progress report on the chosen artist/works, due February 15, 15 %

Curatorial essay title and annotated bibliography, due March 1, 10 %

A summary of Part 2 of Art Practice as Research, as applied to an exhibit, due March 8, 15 %

A comparison of two Visiting Artists’ lectures, due March 29, 10 %

Curatorial essay due April 9, 30%.

Full participation and peer review, 10 %

To get A+ requires correct spelling and grammar on all written work.

Grading Scale:

A+ 90-100       B+  77-79        C+  67-69        D+       57-59

A   85-89         B    73-76        C    63-66        D         53-56

A-  80-84        B-   70-72        C-   60-62        D-       50-52



Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

No extensions without a timely medical certificate.

Late penalties: for every day past the due date, 5% of the assignment’s grade.

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:

Detailed reading list and assignments will be posted on Avenue.

Please note that as the weekly Studio Criticism takes place in TSH114 every Thursday afternoon and this course is scheduled on Friday afternoons (without consultation with Studio Art and Art History faculty), there will not be classes on some Fridays to balance students’ participation in weekly Studio Crit and attendance of Visiting Artists’ Lecture (dates and topics to be announced by Studio Art). For the same reason, sometimes the Friday afternoon 3-hour class might be reduced, to be determined.

January 11, 2019         Introduction

Overview of required textbooks and the organization of the course

The Critique Handbook, Section 1. Framing the Discussion

January 17 and 18, 2019         Introduction to the Studio Criticism and Art Students

Studio Criticism takes place each Thursday afternoon at TSH 114. On Thursday January 17 we will go there to introduce ourselves and meet Art students. AH3P03 students will request to work with specific Art students. AH3P03 students are required to bring their AH3P03 journals to document works and discussions as they need to do so for all studio visits, attendance at lectures, viewing exhibits etc.

On Friday January 18: The Critique Handbook, Section II: Having the Discussio

Report on the first studio visit relative to The Critique Handbook, due January 25, 10 % 

January 25, 2019         Art Criticism in Context

Discussion: Report on the first studio visit relative to The Critique Handbook

Seven Days in the Art World

February 1, 2019: No class, studio visit on January 31

Revise your methods of observing and interacting with art students in studio per discussions on January 25 and in anticipation of your next assignments.

February 8, 2019         Formal Analysis and Theories

Art Practice as Research,  Part 1: contexts for Visual Arts Research

A progress report on the chosen artist/works due February 15, 15 %

February 15, 2019: No class, studio visit on February 14

Art Practice as Research,  Part 2: Theorizing Visual Arts Practice: Read and summarize

February 18-22 RECESS

Curatorial essay title and annotated bibliography, due March 1, 10 %

March 1, 2019

Art Practice as Research,  Part 2: Theorizing Visual Arts Practice: Discuss

A summary of Part 2 of Art Practice as Research, as applied to an exhibit, due March 8, 15 %

March 8, 2019             The evolution of the Curatorial Discourse

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), Chapter 1

March 15, 2019           The Globalized Context

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), Chapter 2

March 22, 2019: No class, studio visit on March 21

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), Chapter 3

A comparison of two Visiting Artists’ lectures, due March 29, 10 %

March 29, 2019           Curating as a Medium of Artistic Practice

The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), Chapter 3

April 5, 2019               Practice as Theory

Art Practice as Research,  Part 3: Visual Arts Research Practices. 

Curatorial essay due April 9, 30% and peer-review due April 9,  part of 10% for participation.




Other Course Information:

Recommended Art Journals and Websites


Art Institute Canada:

Canadian Art:

Canadian Journal of Native Studies:

Indigenous Art Journal:

Journal of Canadian Art Hisotry:

Momus, a return to art criticism:


The Journal of Curatorial Studies:


Art Journal (CAA):

Artforum :


Journal of Curatorial Studies:,id=205/

When necessary, adjustments to readings will be posted on Avenue to Learn.