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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

displayed together.

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

you started:

•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

•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

•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.

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

• 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

• submitting another student's work with your name

on it;
• purchasing a paper or "research" from a term paper

• "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

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