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Course Information

Instructor Info:Karen Koehler
Office Extension x5672
Maddie Dahl
Term: 2013S
Meeting Info: Monday
02:30 PM - 05:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 105

This pro-seminar will give students the opportunity to develop an in-depth, independent research paper on a woman artist, architect, or designer working in the 20th or 21st century-from any place or region of the world. The course will begin by collectively considering the work of modernist, post-war, and contemporary women artists who are known for their experimentation and for working in multiple modalities-including painting, sculpture, performance, installation, books arts, video, film, photography, architecture and design. Throughout, we will target the ways in which women artists have crossed or defied traditional formats and delivery platforms, as well as those today who work in multifaceted mediatic interfaces. Visiting scholars will demonstrate the ways in which case studies can enable rigorous formal analysis, complex historical contextualizations, and diverse critical approaches. Each student will produce a lengthy research paper, which they will develop, workshop, and present throughout the semester. Open to Division II or III students, or Five College sophomore, juniors or seniors. A foundational course in women's studies, history or the history of art is highly recommended. This course will be meet at Hampshire and at the Five College Women's Studies Resource Center.

Course Objectives:


There is one book that you need to purchase at Amherst Books: Modern Women: Women at The Museum of Modern Art. This groundbreaking exhibition catalogue from 2010 represents a wide variety of artists and has essays by many of the leading feminist art historians and critics, as well as essays that address a variety of mediums and theoretical issues. It will be invaluable to you as begin to search for your how to position the work of your artist. 

A few other readings will be available on the course moodle page. 

There will be an open reserve shelf in the library devoted to books on women artists, feminist art history/criticism, & art and gender studies. This will be an important resource for you to help you select an artist, construct a research strategy, and develop your approach.

Evaluation Criteria:


  • Each student in this pro-seminar will select a woman artist to concentrate on this semester. You may choose an artist from any where in the globe, from the late nineteenth century to the present. You may choose to work on an artist, designer, architect, performance artist, photographer, or an artist who works across conventional media-based categories. You will be asked to critically analyze the work of this artist using primary and secondary sources, to clearly but creatively place their work into their historical context, and to consider a variety of theoretical approaches.  You might want to work on an artist who is represented in the collections of the Five College Museums. 
  • The work for this class is entirely based on developing this independent 12-15 page research paper. Students will work towards developing a strong thesis, compiling a critical bibliography, making a strong argument, and completing a finished paper. Throughout the semester you will be expected to present and write up your work in a few different formats: as a topic; as an abstract; as a project in a lightening round at the FCWSRC conference; and, finally, as a completed seminar paper at the end of the semester. Each week there will be assignments/check-ins focused your projects as well as occasional additional readings; students will work in groups to propose shared readings and lead discussion.
  • You need to take notes from the readings and in class to be turned in at the end of term. Your preparedness and contributions to discuss will be prominently featured in your evaluation. 
  • Because this class only meets once a week your attendance at all class meetings is fully expected. More than one unexcused absence will result in a no-evaluation. Please arrive on time. All assignments must be completed to receive an evaluation, and late work will not be evaluated, unless an extension is granted in advance.