A list of all Undergraduate courses in Art Theory & Criticism.
Curriculum Within the Art & Art History Department
AH 1: Survey of World Art: Europe and the United States
This course, intended for beginning students in any major, examines the evolution of art in Europe and the United States, from the prehistory until the twentieth century. The course offers students a general introduction to the history and methodology of art history in
the West. Fee $20.
AH 2: Survey of World Art: Africa, Asia and the Americas
This course, intended for beginning students in any major, examines the evolution of art in Asia, Africa, and the Americas. The course offers students a general introduction to the history and methodology of art history in non-western countries. Fee $20.
ATC 80: Art Theory
This course introduces students to the conceptual terrain of 20th & 21st century critical theory and its relationship to artistic practice. The class will proceed via seminar format based on close readings of seminal texts and will traverse a broad array of interdisciplinary topics and critical approaches ranging from psychoanalysis and philosophy to anthropology and political economy. Assignments will include research and creative projects. Students majoring in art as well as other fields are equally encouraged to enroll. Fee $60. Satisfies both the theory and practice components of the SMC Core Curriculum Artistic Understanding Learning Goal.
ART 1: Studio Foundations 1: Drawing and Painting
This course introduces beginning students to basic two-dimensional art forms such as drawing, painting, collage, and digital photography. In order to explore essential characteristics of visual expression, the class examines basic two-dimensional (2d) design elements and techniques as well as the psychological implications of creative composition in relation to various media. The class functions as a laboratory for experimentation with multi-media work, collaboration, and documentation and includes drawing from live figures and local landscapes. Fee $60. Satisfies the practice component of the SMC Core Curriculum Artistic Understanding Learning Goal.
ART 2: Studio Foundations 2: Sculpture and Installation
This course is an introduction to three-dimensional art forms including sculpture, installation, and performance. Assignments include the use of classical materials such as clay and plaster, as well as found objects, public interventions, and 2d/4d methods. Presentations of various artists’ work and assigned readings provide a springboard for discussion of theory, practical application, and critical thinking, in both historical and contemporary terms. Students are encouraged to apply this material to their own work, with a focus on process rather than results. Fee $60. Does not satisfy an Area requirement.
ART 3: Basic Design
This course introduces students to the fundamental principles of design underlying a wide variety of visual art forms. Topics will include composition, design principles, layout, color and light theory, and typography as applied to two-dimensional formats. Techniques will be contextualized by relevant discussions of psychology and politics, rooted in the study of representative examples and project work. Fee $60. Does not satisfy an Area requirement.
ART 55: Digital Foundations 1: Photo, Video, Sound
This introductory course investigates the digital editing tools, processes, and concepts through which digital technology extends traditional 2d and time-based art practices. Students will develop digital imaging, video, and sound projects using Adobe Photoshop and Apple Final Cut Suite. The course will combine extensive software demonstrations, hands-on exercises, theoretical and technical readings, discussion of a broad range of examples of media art, and group critiques. Fee $100. Satisfies both the theory and practice components of the SMC Core Curriculum Artistic Understanding Learning Goal.
ART 65: Digital Foundations 2: Web Design and Interactive Media
This course introduces the digital editing tools, processes, and concepts of web design and interactive art. Students will study web layout and interface design principles, color theory, typography, information architecture, and other topics that will prepare them to produce compelling website design. The theory of interactive design and new media will help contextualize student work and broaden the creative possibilities for the use of interactive structures for the purposes of artistic expression. Students will develop projects using Adobe Creative Suite software. Fee $60. Does not satisfy an Area requirement.
ATC 111: Philosophy of New Media Art
This course examines the historical, philosophical, and socio-political basis of contemporary new media art. We read theoretical and historical statements that articulate the concepts driving new media art production, coupled with studying examples of representative work, including photography, experimental film and video, installation and net art. Project assignments integrate a critical and creative exploration of concepts. Fee $20.
ATC 117: Art Criticism, 1900 – the Present
This course is an exploration of the history of critical writing about art. A broad sampling of 20th-century texts from art historians, critics, philosophers, social scientists, and artists are brought together for discussion and reflection. Fee $20.
ATC 166: Issues in Twentieth-Century Art
This course, for students who have taken at least one art history course, examines the history of avant-garde art movements in the 20th Century. This course provides students with a focused study of specific types of innovative, modern art. Topics include: Art and Social Change and Art between the Wars. Fee $20.
ATC 180: Seminar in Theory & Practice of Art
Advanced study in critical theory and its relation to art practice. Variable topics may include psychoanalysis, semiotics, post-structuralism, cultural studies, Frankfurt School, to name a few. Assignments will integrate critical and creative process as a form of artistic “praxis.” The course may be repeated for credit as topics vary. Fee $60. Prerequisite: Art 80: Art Theory.
ATC 192: Capstone Project
Art Theory & Criticism majors are required to complete a thesis project as a capstone to their studies. This project typically entails the writing of a work of art theory or criticism, or the curating and production of an art exhibition. This course provides the time and credit for students to pursue their capstone project under the supervision of a departmental faculty member. The course is limited to upper division students in the major, minor, and split majors.
AH 118: Art since 1930
This course focuses on the major stylistic movements in Europe and the United States from the Great Depression to the Digital Age. Topics covered include existentialism, the Beat Generation, pop art, politics and postmodernism, and art in cyberspace. Students are encouraged to develop an understanding of the trends and debates in contemporary art. Fee $20.
AH 193: Museum Internship Project
Work-practice program conducted in an appropriate museum internship position. Normally open to junior and senior art and art history majors. Permission of instructor and departmental chair required.
AH 194: Special Topics in Art History
This course, intended primarily for departmental majors and minors, examines a specific research topic in depth. This course provides students with a focused study of a theme within the history of art. Topics include: The History of Women Artists and Art of the 19th
Century. Fee $20.
Curriculum from Outside the Art & Art History Department
Perfa 1: Perceiving the Performing Arts
Professional artists in the fields of dance, music and theatre introduce students to the fundamental concepts of their respective disciplines. Students go to Bay Area performances in each art form studied. Team taught.
Perfa 10: Rock to Bach: Introduction to Music
Students in this class cultivate the ability to listen more deeply. They study the evolution of classical music, jazz, blues and early rock through exposure to more than three dozen composers—from Bach to Miles Davis to Little Richard.
Perfa 50: Interactive Theatre
Interactive Theatre offers creative tools to effectively engage in difficult dialogues about the intersections of race, gender, sexual
orientation, and class in dynamic and innovative ways. Students learn to build non-threatening environments and promote community-centered problem-solving. Open to actors and non-actors. Satisfies Diversity and Ethnic Studies requirements.
Phil 5: Practical Logic
A course in the analysis and evaluation of everyday arguments. Recognition of patterns of argumentation, fallacies, and ambiguities in English is stressed. This course aims primarily at refining and disciplining the student’s natural ability to think critically. May not be counted for major credit.
Anth 120: Visual Anthropology
Film and photography are powerful media for the representation (or misrepresentation) of social and natural worlds. Because we live in an image-saturated society, this course aims to help students develop a critical awareness of how visual images affect us and how they can be used and misused. The course examines photographic and cinematic representations of human lives with special emphasis on the
documentary sue of film and photography in anthropology. The course has historical, theoretical, ethical, and hands-on components, and students will learn to use photos, PowerPoint and video to produce a coherent and effective presentation.
Anth 124: Museum Studies
Museum Studies is offered in cooperation with Saint Mary's Hearst Art Gallery and Museum and as part of the Archaeology/Art and Art History split major. In this course students study the history of museums and the ethical issues involved in the collection and exhibition of cultural artifacts. The course give students hands-on experience researching artifacts for inclusion in an exhibition, designating an exhibition at the Hearst Gallery, and designing and writing the explanatory wall text, posters and brochures for a show. Students also learn to serve as docents and to convey information about museum exhibitions to different audience. Offered occasionally when an exhibition appropriate for student involvement is scheduled at the Hearst Art Gallery and Museum.
Comm 100: Communication Theory*
This course provides students with a review of major theories applicable to communication among individuals, within organizations, in politics and in the elite and mass media. Through readings and discussion of seminal core texts, students are encouraged to judge for themselves the strong and weak portions of alternative concepts, models and theoretical concepts, as well as to evaluate the empirical methods from which these theories are derived.
Comm 109: Visual Communication*
In this course, students study visual culture, learn to do visual analysis, and explore key ideas in visual communication including visual methodologies, such as compositional interpretation, semiotics, discourse analysis, and psychoanalytic analysis. Possible topics include exploration of the visual components of gay window advertising, video games, video camera technology, photography, film, television, news, the body, comics, theme parks, and museums. Other possibilities include discussing art, representations of race, and taking a walking visual tour of campus.
Eng 170: Problems in Literary Theory
This course is for the student who is uncertain about or even frightened by such labels as "New Criticism," "New Historicism," "Feminism," "Post-Colonialism," "Deconstruction," etc. The only prerequisite is openness to considering new, sometimes foreign ideas or ways to study and think of literature. The aim of the course is to break down the fear and resulting mistrust or mysticism that grows up around these terms and to encourage a more sophisticated reading of texts than that based on mere common sense and impression.
Perfa 118: Twentieth-Century Composers
Students will become familiar with the 20th century’s most important classical music composers such as Stravinsky, Bartok, Copland, Debussy and Cage, as well as the music and aesthetics of living composers.
Perfa 160: Special Topics in Performing Arts
Offered every other year, this course covers in-depth a specific aspect of the performing arts only touched on in other courses. Rotating topics include: African-American Dance, Great Composers, American Musicals, Dance and Film, Theatre and Social Justice, and Directing for the Stage, among others. Although this upper-division course is open to all interested students without prerequisites, prior completion of Performing Arts 1 is strongly recommended.
Perfa 184: Dance in Performance
A course in dance analysis and criticism. Various aspects of dance as a performing art are studied through attendance at dance performances offered in the Bay Area by local companies and national troupes performing on tour. Prerequisite: Performing Arts 1
Phil 111: Philosophy of Art
An analysis of doing and making, of truth, good, beauty, the visible and invisible, of figure and finality, as these reveal the intellectual and spiritual universes disclosed by painters, sculptors, poets, etc.
* Students should consult the department regarding possible
substitutions, as certain courses vary their content.