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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Robin K Wright
ART H 435
Seattle Campus

Thematic Studies in Native-American Art

Approach to Native-American art through themes and issues. Focus varies from year to year (e.g. Shamanism in Native-American art, gender identity in Native-American art, social and political aspects of Native-American art, issues in contemporary Native-American art). Recommended: some background in Native American art, history, languages, or literature.

Class description

This course will examine the history of totem poles and other monumental sculpture on the Northwest Coast, focusing on the historical and cultural contexts of this iconic art from the late 18th century period of first European contact through the present day. Slide lectures will present the historical events and cultural changes that have impacted the carving of totem poles through time, and differences between regional and individual artists' styles.

Student learning goals

An understanding of the history of totem poles on the Northwest Coast, and skills which will enhance the appreciation of this art form and the ability to recognize different regional and individual artists’ styles.

Knowledge of the history of the study of totem poles and how scholars’ approaches to the subject have changed through time.

An overview of some of the major issues that have arisen, particularly regarding concerns about cultural identity, the suppression of native culture and the outlawing of religious and ceremonial practices, the impact of tourism and white patrons on the art market, the legacy of colonialism and issues of repatriation.

An appreciation for the ways artists have mediated these issues through the arts, the role totem poles play in the lives of Northwest Coast peoples today.

General method of instruction

Slide illustrated lectures, class discussion, assigned readings, writing assignments.

Recommended preparation

Recommended background in ArtH 206, 233 or 331

Class assignments and grading

Written Reading Responses Reading Discussion Groups Research Paper Assignment Midterm exam Final exam

Midterm - 25 % of grade, 250 points Final - 25% of grade, 250 points Research Paper - 30% of grade, 300 points Reading Assignments - 10% of grade, 100 points Class participation - 10% of grade, 100 points


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.
Additional Information
Last Update by Robin K Wright
Date: 04/01/2014