history in the western art
The written component of this course involves the curation of an exhibition of works on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The assignment will be completed in two stages and the entire project is worth 25% of your final grade. The overall goal of the project is to carefully choose and analyze three (3) works of art and to illustrate how together they would make an insightful, relevant and interesting exhibition.
Evaluation: Each part of the assignment will be graded
separately. The proposal (5%) must be approved before you
can start working on the paper (20%). Late assignments will
be marked down one full grade for each day that they are late
(i.e. an A assignment turned in one day late will receive a grade
of B). Both part of this assignment must be completed in order
to pass the course; failure to submit either component will
result in a failing course grade.
Organization, syntax, grammar, and punctuation will affect
your grade on both the proposal and the final paper, so you
should leave plenty of time to proofread and revise your text
and should consider consulting the Writing Tutor (who is
available to see students immediately after our class) for
assistance. Remember to leave enough time for the production
of the assignments as well, so that you are not disadvantaged
by computer or printer failures immediately before they are
Paper Proposal (due in class March 23rd):
This should be a 250-word proposal for an exhibition of three
works that you would like to curate at the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. Objects can be chosen from any area that has
been covered or will be covered in our class (i.e. ANE, Egypt,
Greece, Rome, Medieval, Islamic, etc.). They can be chosen from
a single geographical area (i.e. Egypt) or time period (i.e.
Republican Rome), or can be related by function (i.e. ruler
portraits), style (i.e. classical/classicizing), or media (i.e. wall
painting), etc. You must choose carefully and argue lucidly why
your three works would make an interesting and insightful
exhibition. Aside from the textbook, no outside research is
required for this part of the assignment. Please include the
accession number and title of your works of art at the top of
the assignment (these do not count towards your word count).
A snapshot of your objects should also be included with your
To complete this assignment, you must visit the Metropolitan
Museum of Art. You will need to visit the museum in person
and must staple your admission receipt to
your paper. Looking at works of art in books or on-line is not
an acceptable substitute, and failure to attach your receipt will
result in a deduction from your grade. You should pick works
that you find interesting, but also ones that will serve as an
effective springboard for your paper, as discussed below.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is located at 1000 Fifth
Avenue (at 81st and 82nd Streets). Hours are as follows: Sunday-
Thursday 10:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.; Friday- Saturday 10:00 a.m.-
9:00 p.m. There is a suggested admission for students, but you
do not need to pay the full amount; whatever you can afford is
fine. Do not forget to save your admission receipt to attach to
your paper proposal.
After your proposal is approved you can begin to work on your
paper, which should be 1500-2250 words (approximately 6-9
pages). First, the paper requires a careful description of your
works of art and should illustrate close observation as well as
your ability to look critically at works of art. It will also
demonstrate your ability to write lucidly and effectively about
art. Second, the paper must include a well-conceived
explanation of why your chosen works are going to be
Research: The second part of the paper may warrant extra
research (not necessary in all cases). If you use outside sources
you must included a short bibliography at the end of your
paper and incorporate relevant citations throughout. Either the
Chicago Manual of Style or MLA may be used as long as you are
correct and consistent in your citation and bibliographic style.
You can access information on proper citations on the NYU
Libraries Citation Style Guide.
Remember that there is a great deal of incorrect information
on websites such as Wikipedia. These sites are not subject to
scholarly review and hence are not reliable scholarly sources.
Again, you are not required to do any outside research;
however, if you have a question about something that relates
to the object you have chosen, you should visit the library – not
the Web – to find more information about it. If you need
additional assistance, you should feel free to ask me, your
recitation leader or one of the reference librarians, who will be
happy to help you.
Object Analyses: You should describe your works in detail and
analyze their formal and technical elements. Look at the works
from all sides and include as many specific observations as
possible in your discussion. When choosing and analyzing your
works consider the following questions, which will help to get
•What is the subject matter of the work? Who or what does it
depict? What was the probable function of the work in
antiquity, and where might it have been displayed?
•What is the medium of the work? What materials and
techniques were used to make it? •What is the size of the
work? •Describe the figure or figures, including pose,
gesture, clothing and attributes, physique, hair and facial
features, and expression.
•If relevant, describe the overall composition. How are the
various elements arranged? What are the dominant lines of the
composition? How is space treated? •How well preserved is
the work today? Is anything missing that was originally
there? •Analyze the style of the figure or figures. What
shapes or volumes are used? What are the proportions like?
Are certain elements emphasized or exaggerated? How are the
anatomy and drapery handled? •Analyze the technical
aspects of the work. What is the character of the carving or
painting (fluid or linear, deep or shallow, etc.)? How is the
surface of the work treated? Is it dull or polished? What is its
color and texture? •Important: How does the form of the
work (composition, iconography, style, etc.) contribute to its
meaning? What ideas do the various formal elements help to
express, and what meanings or associations might they have
carried for an ancient viewer?
These questions are intended only as a guide; be sure that your
final paper does not read as though you are answering a list of
questions. Also, it is fine to use “I” in the paper, but remember
that this is an academic exercise; please avoid a lengthy
narrative of your day at the museum.
Grading: Your paper will be graded on the following criteria:
•Quality of Description Is the description of the works
thorough and detailed? Would someone who had never seen
the work before be able to envision them clearly? Does the
paper show evidence of close and attentive looking? Do the
descriptions include a variety of perceptive, first-hand
observations? Are generalizations about the work (naturalistic,
idealized, schematized, etc.) supported with concrete details?
•Quality of Analysis Does the paper thoughtfully address
the question of how the works’ form contributes to their
meaning? Is the analysis of how the works convey meaning
insightful and well-developed? Does the paper reflect a clear
understanding of the historical contexts of the works?
•Quality of Curation Does that paper successfully
demonstrate how the chosen works relate to each other? Is the
chosen theme thoughtful and relevant? Would this show be
interesting to a wide variety of people?
•Quality of Writing Is the organization of the paper clear
and logical? Is the syntax smooth and natural, and the sentence
structure varied and interesting? Is the language vivid and
precise, avoiding wordy, repetitive, and vague statements?
Does the paper use correct grammar, spelling, and
punctuation? Has the text been carefully proofread to eliminate
errors of usage?
• presenting an oral report drawn without attribution from
other sources (oral or written); • writing a paragraph which,
despite being in different words, expresses someone else's idea
without a reference to the source of the idea;
• submitting essentially the same paper in two different
courses (unless both instructors have given their permission in
advance); • giving or receiving help on a take-home
examination or quiz unless expressly permitted by the
instructor (as in collaborative projects) • presenting as your
own a phrase, sentence, or passage from another writer's work
without using quotation marks; • presenting as your own
facts, ideas, or written text gathered or downloaded from the
Internet; • submitting another student's work with your name
on it; • purchasing a paper or "research" from a term paper
mill; • "collaborating" between two or more students who
then submit the same paper under their individual names.
Term paper mills (web sites and businesses set up to sell
papers to students) often claim they are merely offering
"information" or "research" to students and that this service is
acceptable and allowed throughout the university. THIS IS
ABSOLUTELY UNTRUE. If you buy and submit "research,"
drafts, summaries, abstracts, or final versions of a paper, you
are committing plagiarism and are subject to stringent
disciplinary action. Since plagiarism is a matter of fact and not
intention, it is crucial that you acknowledge every source
accurately and completely. If you quote
anything from a source, use quotation marks and take down
the page number of the quotation to use in your footnote.
When in doubt about whether your acknowledgment is proper
and adequate, consult your instructor. Show the instructor
your sources and a draft of the paper in which you are using
them. The obligation to demonstrate that work is your own
rests with you, the student. You are responsible for providing
sources, copies of your work, or verification of the date work
was completed. While all this looks like a lot to remember, all
you need to do is to give credit where it is due, take credit only
for your original ideas, and ask your instructor or adviser
when in doubt.
Consult the APA, MLA, or Chicago style guides for accepted