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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Deborah Caplow
BIS 470
Bothell Campus

Art, Politics, and Social Change

Explores art forms as windows on changing political cultures and the role of artists as social critics and advocates of political change in diverse historical epochs and societies and in conjunction with selected modern political movements.

Class description

Fall 2012 This course will explore political aspects of art from the nineteenth century to the present, using a thematic approach and focusing on representations of historical and political events as well as on politicized art movements, art that criticizes war and injustice, by artists like Francisco Goya, Honore Daumier, Kathe Kollwitz, John Heartfield and Sue Coe, to art of the Mexican and Russian Revolutions, art expressing the political turmoil of the Great Depression, art during the Spanish Civil War, the rise of fascism and the Second World War. We will also study political art from the late twentieth century and the early twenty-first. The course will situate politically motivated artists in the framework of art history and will examinine relevant historical, social and conceptual themes and issues. The course will also look at general movements in art history, including contemporary art and work by "non-political artists," to provide a wider context.

Student learning goals

Students will become familiar with the history of political art in the wider context of the history of art.

Students will learn to analyze visual material in terms of its political, social and cultural meanings.

This course will provide experience in writing about art, history and politics and in creating politically orienting works of art.

This course will gain an understanding of how visual phenomena reflect the political, social and cultural values of their time and place

Students will learn to think critically about hidden assumptions and underlying meanings of visual experience.

Students will gain experience in synthesizing information gained through research and presenting the results of their scholarship and creativity to the class.

General method of instruction

The material will be presented through lectures, discussions and readings.

Recommended preparation

Survey class in art history and/or history; strong interest in history and politics.

Class assignments and grading

Short writing assignments, art projects and research papers, quizzes and tests.

Written assignments, projects, presentations, tests and class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Deborah Caplow
Date: 04/24/2012