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Academic Year: Fall/Winter 2014/2015

Term: 2

Day/Evening: E

Instructor: Prof. Sally McKay


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 417

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23675

Office Hours: Thursdays 11:00-12:00, TSH 417

Course Objectives:

This course focuses on critical reading, providing a thematic inquiry into the visual arts in Canada from the earliest explorations and settlements to the present. We will evaluate key practices and art historical moments in Canadian art using a variety of critical texts with particular attention paid to post-colonial issues of nationhood, constructed narrative, and identity. Through readings, written assignments, class discussions, in-class exercises and lectures, students will become familiar with canonical Canadian artworks, as well as with contemporary Canadian artists and art writers who challenge and extend Canadian art historical narratives. Students will develop critical reading, writing and research skills as well as strategies for forming their own frame of reference regarding the practice of Canadian art history and art criticism.

NOTE: students must come to every class prepared with their reading notes, loose-leaf paper, and writing utensils.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Course Texts:

1) Custom Courseware for ART HIST 3B03 Aspects of Canadian Art available at Titles

2) assorted texts from e-books and e-journals available online through the McMaster Library

Method of Assessment:

• In-Class Assignments (due weekly in class)                                                15%

Students will conduct and hand in a short assignment during each class. It is of utmost importance for the class that we each remain welcoming and open to points of view that differ from our own. Students are expected to participate fully, treat one another with courtesy and respect, and contribute with sensitivity to a group dynamic of collaborative exploration. Students are expected to participate fully in group discussions and in-class exercises.


• Reading Responses (due on Avenue each week)                                         30%

(Detailed guidelines for this assignment will be posted on Avenue to Learn.)

Each week, students are required to hand in reading notes on the texts assigned for that week. Each week’s reading responses must be compiled into a single .pdf or .rtf file and uploaded to that week’s drop box folder on Avenue to Learn by noon on each day that readings are listed below. Late responses will be given a grade of 0. All students will bring their notes to class for group discussion.


• Constructed Narrative (due in class on January 20)                                    10%

(Detailed guidelines for this assignment will be posted on Avenue to Learn.)


• Mid-term Quiz (test in class on Feb. 10)                                                         15%

The quiz will consist of image identification questions and fill-in-the-blank questions pertaining to the readings. A study guide for slide identification will be posted on Avenue to Learn.


• Critical Research Paper (essay proposal due in class on March 10)              5%

                                       (final essay due in class on April 7)                            25%

(Detailed guidelines for this assignment will be posted on Avenue to Learn.)

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

This is a self-reporting tool for undergraduate students to report absences DUE TO MINOR MEDICAL SITUATIONS that last up to 5 days and provides the ability to request accommodation for any missed academic work. Please note, this tool cannot be used during any final examination period. You may submit a maximum of 1 Academic Work Missed request per term. It is YOUR responsibility to follow up with your Instructor immediately (NORMALLY WITHIN TWO WORKING DAYS) regarding the nature of the accommodation. If you are absent for reasons other than medical reasons, for more than 5 days, or exceed 1 request per term, you MUST visit your Associate Dean's Office/Faculty Office). You may be required to provide supporting documentation. This form should be filled out immediately when you are about to return to class after your absence.

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:

1: January 6

• Robert Belton, “Introduction” and “A Survey of Visual Culture in Canada,” in Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture (Calgary: University of Calgary), pp1-6 and 19-47. [eBook - main Library catalogue online ]

NOTE: no reading response is required for this week


2: January 13

• J Russell Harper, “The Golden Age in Quebec: The Beginning” in Painting in Canada:  A History (Toronto:  University of Toronto Press, 1966) 55-78. [custom courseware]

• Charmaine Nelson, “Slavery, Portraiture and the Colonial Limits of Canadian Art History” Canadian Woman Studies 24 no. 2 (Winter 2004): 22-29 [PDF download: ]

• Gillian Poulter, "Representation as Colonial Rhetoric: the image of 'the native' and 'the habitant' in the formation of colonial identities in early nineteenth-century Lower Canada," Journal of Canadian Art History, vol.16, no.1 (Dec 1994): 10-29. [PDF download: ]


3: January 20

• Dennis Reid, “Paul Kane and Cornelius Kreighoff, 1845-1865” in A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition, (Canada: Oxford University Press, 1988): 50-66 [custom courseware]

• Heather Dawkins, "Paul Kane and the Eye of Power: Racism in Canadian Art History," in Vanguard, vol. 15, no. 4 (September, 1986),87-100) [online at]

• Andrea Korda, “Femininity, the Picturesque, and the Canadian Landscape: The Drawings and Watercolours of Elizabeth Simcoe and Elizabeth Hale.” Atlantis, vol. 23, no. 2 (2006): 8-21 [PDF download:]


4: January 27

• F.B. Housser, A Canadian Art Movement: The Story of the Group of Seven, (Toronto : Macmillan Co. of Canada, 1926), 143-156, 182-192[custom courseware]

• Barry Lord, The History of Painting in Canada: Toward a People’s Art (Toronto: NC Press, 1974), 115-128, 129-138[custom courseware]

• Scott Watson, “Race, Wilderness, Territory, and the Origins of Modern Canadian Landscape Painting,” in Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art, John O’Brian and Peter White, eds. (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007) pp.276-89 [custom courseware]


5: February 3 - Class will attend a lecture by Tobi Bruce, location TBA

• Kirk Niergarth, “Julia Crawford and the Rules of the Game.”  Journal of Canadian Art History vol. xxxiv, no. 2 (2013), 69-77 [custom courseware]

• Regina Haggo, “Hamilton’s most famous painter comes home,” Hamilton Spectator (May 24, 2014) [ ]

• Tobi Bruce, “Art History/Art Mystery: The Making of the William Blair Bruce Exhibition” Friends of Art History Lecture, McMaster University, February 3, 7:30 pm, Location TBA. [NOTE: response notes on this lecture will be due the week of Feb. 10]


6: February 10

• Gerta Moray, “Wilderness, Modernity and Aboriginality in the Paintings of Emily Carr.” Journal of Canadian Studies 33 no.2 (Summer 1998): 43-65 [online Library database: EBSCOhost Databases]

• Marcia Crosby, “Construction of the Imaginary Indian,” in Vancouver Anthology: The Institutional Politics of Art, Stan Douglas, ed. (Vancouver: Talonbooks, 1991) [custom courseware]

• Carmen L. Robertson, “Thunderbirds and Concepts of Transformation in the Art of Norval Morrisseau,” Journal of Canadian Art History, vol. XXXIII, no. 2 (2012): 53-73 [custom courseware] 




7: Feb. 24

• Paul-Émile Borduas, “Total Refusal,” in Total Refusal: The Complete 1948 Manifesto of the Montréal Automatists, Ray Ellenwood, trans. (Toronto, Chicago: Exile Editions, 2009), 1-20 [custom courseware]

• Roald Nasgaard, Abstract Painting in Canada (Vancouver, Toronto, Halifax, Yarmouth: Douglas and McIntyre and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2007) pp.143-49 and pp.162-63 [custom courseware]

• Michael Snow, “On Wavelength” and “La Région Centrale,” in The Collected Writings of Michael Snow, Louise Dompierre, ed. (Waterloo, ON: Wilfred Laurier Press, 1994), 39-46, 53-56 [eBook - main Library catalogue online ]


8: March 3

• Kass Banning, “The Mummification of Mommy: Joyce Wieland as the AGO’s First Living Other,” in Sightlines: Reading Contemporary Canadian Art, Jessica Bradley and Lesley Johnstone, eds. (Montreal: Artextes editions, 1994) pp.153-67 [custom courseware]

• Kirsty A. Holmes, “Feminist Art History in Canada: A ‘Limited Pursuit.” Negotiations in a Vacant Lot: Studying the Visual in Canada, Lynda Jessup, Erin Morton, Kirsty Robertson, eds. (Montreal & Kingston: McGill -Queen’s University Press, 2014), 47-65 [custom courseware]

• Tagny Duff, “FWD, RWD, and PLAY: Performance Art, Video and Reflections on Second-Wave Feminism in Vancouver 1973-1983,” in Caught in the Act: An anthology of performance art by Canadian Women, Tanya Mars and Johanna Householder, eds. (Toronto: YYZ Books, 2004), 41-53[custom courseware]


9: March 10

• Gerald McMaster, “Contributions to Canadian Art by Aboriginal  Contemporary Artists,” in Hidden in plain sight: Contributions of Aboriginal peoples to Canadian Identity and Culture, David Newhouse, Cora Voyageur, Daniel Beavon, eds. (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005) pp. 140-62 [custom courseware]

• Lisa Myers, “RECAST,” curatorial essay for the exhibition RECAST with Bev Koski and Christian Chapman, Gallery 44 (October 2014) [hand-out in class]

• Jamelie Hassan, “What Counts as Culture,” in Theory Rules, Jody Berland and Will Straw, eds. (Toronto: YYZ Books and University of Toronto Press, 1996), 101-114 [custom courseware]


10: March 17

• Peggy Gale, “A History in Four Moments,” in Mirror Machine: Video and Identity, Janine Marchessault, ed. (Toronto: YYZ Books and Centre for Research on Canadian Cultural Industries and Institutions, 1995) pp.55-66 [custom courseware]

• John Greyson, “The Singing Dunes: Colin Campbell, 1943-2001,” in C Magazine, no.74 (Summer 2002): 29-31  [online Library database: EBSCOhost Databases]

• Virginia Solomon, "What is Love?: Queer Subcultures and the Political Present" eflux (2013) []


11: March 24

• The Massey Commission, “The Problems of Painters and Galleries,” in Documents in Canadian Art, Douglas Fetherling, ed. (Peterborough: Broadview Press, 1987) pp.185-205 [custom courseware]

• Richard William Hill, “Getting Unpinned: Collecting Aboriginal Art and the Potential for Hybrid Public Discourse in Art Museums,” in Obsession, Compulsion, Collection: On Objects, Display Culture, and Interpretation, Anthony Kiendl, ed. (Banff: Banff Centre Press, 2004) pp.193-206 [custom courseware]

• Anne Whitelaw, “Art Institutions in the Twentieth Century: Framing Canadian Visual Culture,” in The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century, Anne Whitlaw, Brian Foss, Sandra Paikowsky, eds. (Oxford, New York, Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2010), 3-15. [custom courseware]


12: March 31

• Deborah Root, “The Mystical Language of the Everyday: Jamelie Hassan’s at the Far Edge of Words,” C Magazine, no.103 (Autumn 2009): 36-42 [online Library database: EBSCOhost Databases]

• Valerie Behiery, “Imaging Islam in the Art of Arwa Abouon,” Journal of Canadian Art History, vol. XXXIII, no. 2 (2012): 129-147 [PDF download:]

• Amanda Boetzkes, “Waste and the Sublime Landscape.” RACAR: revue d'art canadienne / Canadian Art Review, vol. 35, no. 1 (2010): 22-31[online Library database: Jstor]


13: April 7

• Katherine V. McHenry, "Canadian Art," Brush and Pencil, vol.8, no. 6 (Sept. 1901): 331-333, 335-336 [online Library database: Scholars Portal Journals]

• Denise Markonish, “Oh, Canada or: how I learned to love 3.8 million square miles of art north of the 49th parallel,” in Oh, Canada : contemporary art from north North America, (Cambridge, MA : MIT Press, 2012), 18-53 [custom courseware]

• R.M.Vaughan, “Antwerp Diary,” Canadian Art (Summer 2006): 54-57 []

• R.M.Vaughan, “Eye of the Art Critic,”, The Canadian Journalism Project (2007) []

Other Course Information:

Email policy: Instructor may take up to 48 hours to respond to email.

Support Services: The University provides a variety of support services to help students manage their many demands. Reference librarians can provide invaluable research assistance. The Student Accessibility Services Centre (SAS) provides assistance with personal as well as academic matters. MUSC B107 and