Writing Assignment: Art History Research Essay Requirements and Guidelines
DESCRIPTION: The art history research essay requires application of formal and contextual
methods in the analysis of a work of art (painting, sculpture, architecture, or textile/decorative
arts). Essays must incorporate at least two scholarly sources.
FORMAT: The essay should be 1,000 to 1,200 words (3-3.5 pages) in length excluding the
Works Cited, long quotations, and MLA headings. Essays should follow MLA format (e.g.,
proper headers, 1-margins, 12-point font, Works Cited page with alphabetized source citations).
CONTENT: Essays should contain each of the following components.
(1) Introduction of your theme and the specific artwork (e.g., painting, sculpture,
a. Refer to basic information concerning the artist or architect, subject, location,
patron, date, and any other essential facts your reader needs to know about the
work(s) and the artist(s) who created it/them.
b. State your THESIS; announce the major point of your discussion. Your thesis will
emerge as you research and you should formulate it prior to beginning to write,
but keep in mind you may change it at any point during the writing stages.
(2) Description of the monument(s).
a. Define the distinctive visual forms that the artist(s) has/have employed to create
the work(s): qualities of line, shape, color, light, texture, space, mass, volume, and
composition. Start with those elements that you feel are important to an overall
understanding of a work.
b. Consider how these qualities work together to define the style (i.e., combination
of form and composition-organization or arrangement of forms) of the work(s)
pointing out stylistic differences (or similarities).
ii. Representational: such as realism and naturalism, idealization, or
(3) Content analysis of the monument(s).
a. The basic question to be answered here is how the distinctive visual qualities
(defined in step 2) can be understood, not simply as purely visual forms, but as
carriers of intellectual meaning. Consider the following:
i. What does the work represent or what is its apparent subject matter
(iconography)? If there is no specific subject (or at least not one with
which you are familiar) does there appear to be an overall theme or
ii. If known, what was the original physical setting of the work(s)?
iii. Consider the social, political, and religious context in which a work was
created. Which factors most significantly impacted the artist?
iv. Who commissioned the work(s)? To what extent does the work respond to
the requirements of a patron?
v. Who was the intended audience? Speculate the audiences reaction based
on the content-did it conform to or break with the canon/tradition?
(4) Conclusion. Brief statement in which you summarize your thesis and the meaning of the
work(s) based on the descriptive and contextual analysis you have presented. What ideas
or beliefs does the work convey and how did you arrive at this interpretation?
(5) Works Cited. A list of at least two scholarly academic sources cited within your essay
and formatted according to MLA guidelines. It is important to summarize in your own
words using parenthetical citations rather than direct quotations. The more you quote
directly from other sources, the weaker your message becomes. Showcase your
individuality and intellectual prowess!
You should ALWAYS cite when referencing ideas that are not your own.
The bulk of your essay should include your interpretation of scholarly ideas and original
descriptions of the artwork. Avoid long quotations. Instead, try to capture the authors
main idea in your own words as succinctly as possible (using parenthetical citations as
Wikipedia and Blogs are NOT scholarly sources and will not fulfill the research
component of this assignment. While often useful for topic selection, Wiki-type media
are NOT sufficient for academic writing. Generally, you should only use information
obtained from .edu or .gov domains unless you are using materials found on a museum
website or other cultural institution (e.g., the Met Museum).
Sources without an author are often unacceptable for college-level writing.
Be sure to review the Writing Resources posted in the Content section of D2L to guide
the writing process.
**For more information on MLA format and help writing art history papers, see the Writing
Resources module in the Content section of D2L.
TOPICS: I traditionally gave a list of topics, but have chosen to omit this list because I want you
to develop your own topic based on an art object that intrigues you, perhaps one that you
encounter while reading the textbook or exploring course content and want to learn more about.
Feel free to meet with me to discuss your topic once you have done some preliminary research.
TURNITIN: Essays must be submitted to the Dropbox by the posted deadline. You will have
access to the Turnitin Originality Report that you should review to confirm all sources have been
ORIGINALITY: Your final essay must be your own original work completed and submitted for
the first time for this class. Submitting previously graded work is a violation of the academic
NFCC Library Resources: Below is a list of resources that may help you research a topic and
write your essay. Notice appropriate MLA format!
Ancient Egyptian Art
Bothmer, Bernard V. Egyptian Art: Select Writings. New York, NY: Oxford University Press,
Collins, Paul. From Egypt to Babylon: the International Age 1550-500 BC. Cambridge, MA:
Harvard University Press, 2008.
Hawass, Zahi A. Hidden Treasures of Ancient Egypt: Unearthing the Masterpieces of Egyptian
History. Washington, DC: National Geographic, 2004.
Tyldesley, Joyce A. Cleopatra: The Last Queen of Egypt.
Greek & Roman Art
Riggs, Christina. The Beautiful Burial in Roman Egypt: Art, Identity, and Funerary Religion.
Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2005. [electronic resource]
Pollitt, Jerome Jordan. Art in the Hellenistic . New York: Cambridge University Press, 1986.
Woodford, Susan. The Art of Greece and Rome, 2nd ed. Cambridge, U.K. ; New York :
Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Cormack, Robin. Byzantine Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.
Luttwak, Edward. The Grand Strategy of the Byzantine Empire. Cambridge, Mass. :Belknap
Press of Harvard University Press,2009.
Campbell, Gordon. Renaissance Art and Architecture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Morrow, Ann. Italy: The Essential Guide to Viewing Italian Renaissance Art. New York:
Interlink Books, 2004.
Tinagli, Paola. Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, and Identity. New
York : Manchester University Press, 1997.
Snyder, James. Northern Renaissance Art: Painting, Sculpture, the Graphic Arts from 1350 to
1575. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2005.
Woods, Kim. Viewing Renaissance Art. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2007.
General Art History Resources
Kemp, Martin, ed. The Oxford History of Western Art. Oxford; New York: Oxford University
Stokstad, Marilyn. All About Art: An Essential History. Upper Saddle River, N.J. :Pearson
Prentice Hall, 2007.
Online Resources: Museum Websites*
British Museum, London http://www.britishmuseum.org/
The Louvre, Paris http://www.louvre.fr/llv/commun/home.jsp?bmLocale=en
Muse dOrsay, Paris http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/home.html
National Gallery, London http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk
Vatican Museums, Rome http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html
Metropolitan Museum, New York http://www.metmuseum.org
Prado, Madrid http://museoprado.mcu.es/ihome.html
National Gallery of Art, Washington DC http://www.nga.gov
Art Institute of Chicago http://www.artic.edu/aic/index.php
Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg http://hermitagemuseum.org/html_En/index.html
MOMA, New York http://www.moma.org
Guggenheim, New York/Venice/Berlin/Las Vegas http://www.guggenheim.org
The Getty Museum, http://www.getty.edu/museum/
* The websites themselves should not be cited, but the individual articles you find (e.g., often
written by a museum curator or academic publications).
JSTOR is an archive of several academic journals with several related to the discipline of art
history; Art Journal; Journal of Aesthetics and Criticism; Journal of the Association of Art
Historians; The Athenian Agora; and countless others
Hint: You might try a keyword search based on the type of artwork you are interested in writing
about (i.e., the historical period that intrigues you most, e.g., Ancient Egyptian Art). If you
need assistance, dont hesitate to contact me for help or consult with a librarian for assistance.
|Due By (Pacific Time)||04/17/2013 12:00 am|
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