Essay Assignment

Essay Assignment :  ESSAY TOPIC #1
For many people, modern and contemporary art has the reputation of being difficult to
understand and appreciate. But as we have seen in the course, artists have intentionally
chosen strategies to challenge the status quo and common sense. In other words, artists see
value in the difficult. What makes an artwork difficult? What would be considered a difficult
image or a difficult form? Is certain subject matter difficult and has that changed over time?
Difficulty, for the purpose of this essay question, is not only what you personally find difficult, but
what has been presented in the course material as being challenging to the general viewer.
Identify artworks by at least three different artists discussed in the course that are considered
difficult. Analyze the difficult nature of each work and explain why the difficulty has been
conceived as an intentional artistic strategy and a positive attribute in 20th century art, citing
specific artistic, intellectual, theoretical contexts discussed in the course materials.
ESSAY TOPIC #2
Given the many new art media, artistic methods, artistic objectives, popular visual media, and
imaging technologies, what new technical, creative, and intellectual skills do contemporary
artists need? For the purpose of this essay question, new skills are ones that artists prior to
1900 would not be expected—or have been able—to use in their work, but become important
for the new art practices that emerged in the 20th century. Your essay must identify,
contextualize, and evaluate three distinct new skills using the work of three artists discussed in
the course as examples. You must also cite specific 20th century artistic, intellectual, and
technological developments presented in the course material to support your argument. Think
creatively about the new art forms we have discussed throughout the course, especially
conceptual art, performance, activism, and work involving new visual technologies. Be creative,
but make sure you define concrete and precise skills and the rationale for their use in 20th
century are. For example, the argument “I will show how being skilled with technology could be
useful for artists” is too general. A proper argument would identify a specific technology and a
precise reason why it is useful for contemporary art making.
ESSAY TOPIC #3
Faced with the exhilaration, alienation, and developments of 20th century life, artists
“…could embrace it…they could reject it for its materialism…or they could attempt to
reform it.” (Wood 19) In your opinion, is the role of the artist and the function of art
most closely associated with one of these approaches? Would you argue that these
approaches are mutually exclusive, or could an artist address the world around them
in their work in multiple ways? In your argument, make sure you provide context for
the approaches listed above by linking them to specific cultural, intellectual, political,
or technological changes discussed in the course thus far. Use relevant key terms,
material from the reading assignments, and artworks by at least three artists
discussed in the course as evidence to support your argument.
ESSAY: COMMON ISSUES
General
• Keep your writing direct and clear. Address the essay question directly by using the terms
and language in the question.
I will argue that the role of the artist and the function of art should be to embrace visual
culture and technology. I will discuss the work of…to show that in the 20th century
many artists embraced new technologies such as photography, new intellectual ideas
such as the rethinking of assumptions during the postmodern period, and new…
• Do not make generalizations that can not be supported.
Generalization: Art is usually full of emotion.
Generalization: For artists, creativity is one of the most important qualities.
• Do not overstate or make excessive claims that can not be supported.
Overstatement: Art has no boundaries, any artist can experiment and explore with
different medium.
• Do not use clichés.
Cliché: When an artist is proficient with multiple media, it will allow them to grow and
create outside the box.
ESSAY: COMMON ISSUES
Incorrect: An artist should at least know different kinds of media, which can give the artist
to more space to be creative. And he/she should know their own ability to make their own
decision through those media.
Correct: An artist should be familiar with multiple media because art of the twentieth
century, especially in the postmodern period is characterized mixing of various artforms.
ESSAY: WRITING ASSISTANCE
It is highly recommended that you make an appointment with Professor Nancy
Johnston at the writing center to refine your abilities to write an essay at the
university level.
If you need more information, you can contact Nancy at: johnston@utsc.utoronto.ca
You should have someone carefully proof read your essay for spelling and grammar
prior to handing it in. The writing center does not provide this service.
Please be mindful of the length of the essay. It is to be 1500 – 2000 words and no
longer.
ESSAY: ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
Choose one of the essay topics below and write a 1500-2000 word, double-spaced
analytical essay using MLA citation format. Your essay should have a standard structure
that includes an introduction with a thesis statement, a body with analysis in paragraph
form, and a conclusion.
Essay topic #1
In Frameworks for Modern Art, Paul Wood writes that faced with the exhilaration,
alienation, and developments of 20th century life, artists “…could embrace it…they could
reject it for its materialism…or they could attempt to reform it.” (Wood 19) In your opinion,
is the role of the artist and the function of art most closely associated with one of these
approaches? Would you argue that these approaches are mutually exclusive, or could an
artist address the world around them in their work in multiple ways? In your argument,
make sure you provide context for the approaches listed above by linking them to specific
cultural, intellectual, political, or technological changes discussed in the course thus far.
Use relevant key terms, material from the reading assignments, and artworks by at least
three artists discussed in the course as evidence to support your argument.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
Essay topic #2
Is it better for an artist to be an expert at one medium or proficient with many media?
Choose one viewpoint and make an argument for that position by identifying and
contextualizing three artistic theories or developments presented in the course material
that support your chosen position. Use quotes from writers, artists, and theorists that we
have encountered in the course materials to support your argument and use the work of
three artists discussed in the course as concrete examples. Your essay must also identify
and evaluate at least the one counter-argument for the position you choose.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
Essay topic #3
For many people, modern and contemporary art has the reputation of being difficult to
understand and appreciate. But as we have seen in the course, artists have
intentionally chosen strategies to challenge the status quo and common sense. In
other words, artists see value in the difficult. What makes an artwork difficult? What
would be considered a difficult image or a difficult form? Is certain subject matter
difficult and has that changed over time? Difficulty, for the purpose of this essay
question, is not only what you personally find difficult, but what has been presented in
the course material as being challenging to the general viewer. Identify artworks by at
least three different artists discussed in the course that are considered difficult.
Analyze the difficult nature of each work and explain why the difficulty has been
conceived as an intentional artistic strategy and a positive attribute in 20th
century art, citing specific artistic, intellectual, theoretical contexts discussed in
the course materials.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
WHAT IS AN ANALYTICAL ESSAY?
In an analytical essay you are expected to both examine information and evaluate it. Make
sure you pay attention to the differences between “consider,” “explain,” and “evaluate” in
the essay question. Consider opposing viewpoints and address them to strengthen your
own argument. Finally, focus on the quality of your arguments, not the quantity. There may
be dozens of reasons that support your view; pick only the best.
Source: “Analytic Essay.” Allyson Skene. The Writing Centre, UTSC
http://utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/utsc.utoronto.ca.twc/files/resource-files/AnalyticEssay.pdf
ASSIGNMENT OBJECTIVES
• An opportunity for you to reflect on the themes and cultural consequences of the artistic
developments discussed in the class.
• An opportunity for you to apply the vocabulary, concepts, and artworks discussed in the
course.
• An opportunity to practice your university-level essay writing skills.
TIPS
• Make use of the outline format we worked with in class to sketch out your essay before
you start.
• Come to my office hours to discuss your ideas.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
ACADEMIC CITATION FOR YOUR ESSAY
Use MLA citation for your essay. Below is an example of how to cite material with 1) an intext citation and 2) an entry in the Works Cited list at the conclusion of your essay. MLA
citation requires both.
In-text citation (citation that follows immediately after the cited material)
1) If you do not identify the author in your sentence: “Newman’s work explores the
experience of looking.” (Harrison 32)
2) If you name the author then: In the chapter “Barnett Newman’s Eve” Charles
Harrison explains that “Newman’s work explores the experience of looking…” (32)
Works Cited list in alphabetical order by surname
Works Cited
Harrison, Charles. “Barnett Newman’s Eve.” Frameworks for Modern Art. Ed.
Jason Gaiger. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. 105-149. Print.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
ACADEMIC CITATION FOR YOUR ESSAY
For full details on MLA Citation see:
http://ctl.utsc.utoronto.ca/twc/sites/default/files/MLA_Citation_REV2.pdf
Formatting for citing online video materials from the Viewing Assignments see:
http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/MRC/mla.html#online
Formatting for citing exhibition catalogues and art materials see:
http://www.cia.edu/files/assets/mlacitationstyleguide.pdf
Tips on “How Not to Plagiarize”:
http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/images/stories/Documents/how-not-to-plagiarize.pdf
ADDITIONAL RESEARCH
You are not required to do additional research for this essay. I encourage you to try to
apply the material that we’ve examined in the class. If you choose to use other materials,
make sure you cite your sources properly.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
WHEN DO I NEED A CITATION?
• Quotations. If you use the author’s exact words, enclose them in quotation marks, or
indent passages of more than four lines.
• Distinctive or authoritative ideas. If the ideas you are using are paraphrases or
summarizing are more than “common knowledge” a citation is needed.
EXAMPLES:
“Magiciens de la terre was an exhibition that took place in Paris in 1989.”
Citation not needed: common knowledge
“Whereas it would seem that one of the reasons why Martin had chosen the title
‘Magiciens de le Terre’ was to avoid imposing a universalizing narrative of art, it was
observed that he had by-passed rather than engaged with the issue of what is
considered to be art.”
Citation needed: An exact quote, distinctive idea, not common knowledge.
For more details see the “How Not to Plagiarize” handout posted on Blackboard.
ESSAY ASSIGNMENT (This information is available as a PDF on Quercus)
EVALUATION
• The essay question is addressed properly: a diverse range of examples have been used to
address the essay question; relevant material from reading assignments have used as
evidence to support your arguments. (Approx. 18 marks)
• Proper grammar, clarity, and organization, and academic citation. (Approx. 5 marks)
• The insightfulness of your ideas. (Approx. 2 marks)
SUBMISSION INSTRUCTIONS. Incorrectly submitted files will not be graded
• Do not submit a cover page.
• Do not submit images with your essay.
• Your full name (last name, first name), student number, course code/name, and essay title
should appear in this order at the top, left hand corner of page 1 of your essay
• Go to the Coursework page for this course in Blackboard, click on the assignment link, and
scroll down to the submission area.
• Upload a Word file in .docx format. Do not submit PDF or text edits files, or cut and paste text
into the submission field.

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