HIST08015 2019 Critical Writing: (Practice based)

General Details

Full Title
Critical Writing: (Practice based)
Transcript Title
Critical Writing: (Practice ba
80 %
Subject Area
HIST - History / Theory of Art
YADA - Yeats Academy Art Dsgn & Arch
08 - NFQ Level 8
05 - 05 Credits
Start Term
2019 - Full Academic Year 2019-20
End Term
9999 - The End of Time
Angela Mehegan, Emmet O'Doherty, Louis McManus
Programme Membership
SG_AARTT_K08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Art SG_AARTT_H08 201900 Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Fine Art

The emphasis in the Critical Writing: Practice-Based module is on the student’s own evaluation and location of their work within a variety of relevant contexts. The aim is to provide a framework that affords the student the means of responding - through a 3.000 word Critical Writing piece - to methods, processes, subject matter and contextual reference points related to the development of a final year body of work.

Learning Outcomes

On completion of this module the learner will/should be able to;


Identify topic area and contextual reference points that position the student's individual art practice within a broader cultural, theoretical and/or contemporary art framework.


Create and articulate a specific discourse about their practice which tests and develops methods and insights.


Generate and apply critical and contextual writing to their own fine art practice and a body of work.


Use their own practice to develop critical inquiry and debate around the inter-relatedness of theory, practice, creativity and criticism.


Explore different modes and techniques of art-related writing to communicate effectively and produce a 2500-3000 word piece of writing that positions their own work in the world of art and field of practice today.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching and Learning Strategies for the Critical Writing module are predominately seminar and tutorial based. Seminars offer opportunities for more detailed thematic textual analysis, oral communication and structured debate and group discussion. The scheduled 1-1 tutorials allow for focused interaction and subject-specific research and writing-in progress feedback.

Module Assessment Strategies

The nature of the illustrated Critical Writing piece may vary depending on the student and involves diverse formative assessments based on student engagement at different stages. Grading is undertaken by both main supervisor and second readers using an assessment strategy  that focuses on the student's advanced evaluation of the subject of History/Theory of Art in context through: 

  • Application of informed research and visual methodologies
  • Proficiency in information literacy skills
  • Written composition 
  • Integration of Theory/Discourse
  • Evaluation of research objectives, rationale, methods and findings

Repeat Assessments

Repeat project work based on resubmission of Critical Writing piece for consideration in Autumn Repeat Examination.

Indicative Syllabus

The aim of this form of critical writing is to affords the student the means of locating their practice in appropriate contexts and frameworks. The indicative syllabus considers ways to explore, think about and respond to methods, practice and process and personal contextual reference points used to develop and bring to fruition a body of work.

  • Research methodologies: Documentation of studio practice, Practice-based approaches, Reporting & Evaluating
  • Practice(s): Cultural and social practice, Conventions and characteristics, Modalities
  • Core concepts in contemporary art: The Body in Contemporary Art Practice: Texts and Theories, Critical Terms, 
  • Art-related Writing: , Published/scholarly art criticism, Critical Writing genres, Types of specialist critical essays and reviews, Manifesto writing, Artist Statements
  • Artist, Artwork, Audiences:  Intention & aesthetics, Display & contemporary Art, Site-specificity, Showcasing, Exhibition strategies, Models of best practice, 
  • Critical Writing: Formal & contextual analyses, Relationships between conceptual, theoretical and practical elements, Personal contextual reference points.

Coursework & Assessment Breakdown

Coursework & Continuous Assessment
100 %

Coursework Assessment

Title Type Form Percent Week Learning Outcomes Assessed
1 Studio Based Presentation Continuous Assessment Interview 10 % Week 7 1,4
2 Critical Writing Essay Continuous Assessment Assignment 90 % End of Year 2,3,4,5

Full Time Mode Workload

Type Location Description Hours Frequency Avg Workload
Seminar Not Specified Critical/Contextual Writing 3 Weekly 3.00
Total Full Time Average Weekly Learner Contact Time 3.00 Hours

Required & Recommended Book List

Required Reading
2012 Why is that Art? Oxford University Press, USA
ISBN 0199758808 ISBN-13 9780199758807

Why is that art? Why is it in an art museum? Who says it's art? Why is it good? Author Terry Barrett addresses these questions about contemporary art using four key sources: a broad, diverse, and engaging sampling of works, the artists who created the works, philosophers of art, and art critics.Why Is That Art?introduces students to established theories of art through the presentation of contemporary works that include abstract and representational painting, monumental sculpture, performance art, video installations, films, and photographs. Ideal for courses in aesthetics, art theory, art criticism, and the philosophy of art, this unique book provides students with a newfound appreciation for contemporary art, scholarship, and reasoned argumentation. FEATURES * Explores a variety of established theories of art,including Realism, Expressionism, Cognitivism, Formalism, and Postmodernist Pluralism * Applies each theory to contemporary works of art,discussing strengths and limitations of each mode of interpretation * Brings abstract ideas together in an accessible waythrough extended examples, giving students the understanding and vocabulary to confidently enter critical dialogue about art * Includes Questions for Further Reflectionat the end of each chapter * Includes seventy illustrations,twenty-five of which are in full color NEW TO THIS EDITION * Includes a new glossary of key terms * Expands the treatment of postmodernism,incorporating strategies of postmodernist art-making * Provides updated discussions of artistsJeff Koons, Kiki Smith, Paul McCarthy, and Andy Goldsworthy, as well as images of their new works

Required Reading
2014-09-01 How to Write about Contemporary Art
ISBN 0500291578 ISBN-13 9780500291573

Presents concise and definitive instructions for writing about contemporary art, discussing key style, structural, and content elements with guidance for writing in specific forms, including academic, press releases, and essays.

Required Reading
2009 The Artistic Turn Leuven University Press
ISBN 9490389005 ISBN-13 9789490389000

The Orpheus Institute has been providing postgraduate education for musicians since 1996 and introduced the first doctoral programme for music practitioners in Flanders (2004). Acting as an umbrella institution for Flanders, it is co-governed by the music and dramatic arts departments of all four Flemish Colleges, which are strongly involved in its operation. Throughout the Institutes various activities (workshops, master classes, seminars, interviews, and associated events) there is a clear focus on the development of a new research discipline in the arts: one that addresses questions and topics that are at the heart of musical practice, building on the unique expertise and perspectives of musicians and constantly dialoguing with more established research disciplines. Within this context, the Orpheus Institute launched an international Research Centre in 2007 that acts as a stable constituent within an ever growing field of enquiry. The Orpheus Research Centre in Music [ORCiM] is a place where musical artist can fruitfully conduct individual and collaborative research on issues that are of concern to all involved in artistic practice. The development of a discipline-specific discourse in the field of artistic research in music is the core mission of ORCiM. This Subseries of The Collected Writings of the Orpheus Institute, will explicitly 'zoom in' on studies that take artistic practice as their point of departure and deal with questions and challenges that arise from that practice. It is this kind of research, in all its variety, which the Orpheus Researhc Centre in Music promotes and which the Subseries is designed to present. The contributions within the Subseries extend the possibilities and understanding of musical practice and act as a springboard for future research in this young but fascinating area. The emergent field of artistic research remains controversial, and is accepted with varying degrees of enthusiasm in academic institutions. The challenges and opportunities presented by this discipline may be better understood by re-emphasising the centrality of the artist through a fresh paradigm-an 'artistic turn'. The aim is to create a field of meaning that may illuminate the most promising, though correspondingly problematic, aspects of artistic research; the essential ineffability of artistic creativity, and the consequent insufficiency of verbal and written accounts. The discourse articulated charts a constellation of ideas that outlines the new disciplines and points to its manifold and open-ended possibilities.

Required Reading
2013 Contemporary Art: 1989 to the Present Wiley-Blackwell

Required Reading
2011 Contemporary Art Pearson College Division
ISBN 0205789714 ISBN-13 9780205789719

Contemporary Art: World Currents is the first comprehensive worldwide survey of contemporary art from the 1980s to the present day. Author Terry Smith argues that, in recent decades, a global shift from modern to contemporary art has occurred: artists everywhere have embraced the contemporary world's teeming multiplicity, its proliferating differences and its challenging complexities and new technologies. Alongside more than 350 carefully selected color images of key works, Terry Smith offers the first account of these changes, from their historical beginnings to the present day. Exploring key works by both well known and little-known artists, the author shows how contemporary art achieved definitive force in the markets and museums of the major art centres during the 1980s and then became a global phenomenon as artworlds everywhere began to connect more closely: new communicative technologies and expanding social media are now shaping the future of art. Contemporary Art: World Currents breaks new ground in tracing how modern, traditional and indigenous art became contemporary in each cultural region of the world, ranging across Western, East and Central Europe, North and South America and the Caribbean, Oceania, Africa, and the Middle East. Terry Smith lays the groundwork for a new comparative approach to contemporary art, emphasizing its relationships to all aspects of contemporary life. He argues that it is cultural diversity and individual artistic inventiveness, not a convergence towards sameness, which makes today's art contemporary. Contemporary Art: World Currents brings the subject right up-todate, highlighting the concerns of contemporary artists while giving the reader an invaluable insight to art today. Teaching and Learning Experience Improve Critical Thinking- Explore how contemporary art has become a global, connected phenomenon Engage Students- Looks at the work of contemporary artists from across the world. Support Instructors- Image PowerPoints slides are available for Contemporary Art: World Currents.

Required Reading
2003 The Contingent Object of Contemporary Art MIT Press (MA)
ISBN 0262025396 ISBN-13 9780262025393

A professor of art history explores the last four decades of art history, raising important questions about authorship and materials, beginning in the era of "anything is art" and continuing through post-modern expressions of pastiche art that combine materials from many sources. (Fine Arts)

Required Reading
2002 Rosalind Krauss and American Philosophical Art Criticism Greenwood Publishing Group
ISBN 0275975207 ISBN-13 9780275975203

Studies the work of the most original and influential present-day art critic, tracing her development from her formalist writings in the 1960s through the post-structuralism of the current academic climate.

Required Reading
2003 What Happened to Art Criticism? Prickly Paradigm
ISBN 0972819630 ISBN-13 9780972819633

Art criticism was once passionate, polemical and judgmental: now critics are more often interested in ambiguity, neutrality, and nuanced description. And while art criticism is ubiquitous in newspapers, magazines, and exhibition brochures, it is also virtually absent from academic writing. Here, James Elkins surveys the last fifty years of art criticism, proposing some interesting explanations for these startling changes.

Required Reading
2005 Art Practice as Research SAGE
ISBN 1412905362 ISBN-13 9781412905367

Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts presents a compelling argument that the creative and cultural inquiry undertaken by artists is a form of research. The text explores themes, practices, and contexts of artistic inquiry and positions them within the discourse of research. Author Graeme Sullivan argues that legitimate research goals can be achieved by choosing different methods than those offered by the social sciences. The common denominator in both approaches is the attention given to rigor and systematic inquiry. Artists emphasize the role of the imaginative intellect in creating, criticizing, and constructing knowledge that is not only new but also has the capacity to transform human understanding.

Module Resources

Non ISBN Literary Resources

Annotated Bibliography.” The Writing Center. 2003. University of Wisconsin, Madison. 5 March 2004 <http://www.wisc.edu/writing/Handbook/AnnotatedBibliography.html>.

Barrett, T. (2008) Why is that art? Aesthetics and criticism of contemporary art. New York: Oxford Press.

Bolt, B. (2004) Art Beyond Representation: the performative power of the image. London: IB Tauris.

Carter, P (2004) Material Thinking: the theory and practice of creative research. Carlton, VIC: Melbourne University Publishing.

Coessens, K., D. Crispin and A. Douglas (2009) The Artistic Turn. A Manifesto. Ghent: Orpheus Instituut / Leuven University Press.

Gray, C. and J. Malins (2004) Visualizing Research: a guide to the research process in art and design. Aldershot: Ashgate.

Hannula, M, J Suoranta, and T Vadén (eds.) (2005). Artistic research – Theories, methods and practices. Helsinki and Gothenburg: Academy of Fine Arts, Finland and University of Gothenburg.

IMMA The What Is_? Programme What is https://imma.ie/what-is-art/overview/  An introduction to some of the key concepts and themes in modern and contemporary art for all audiences.

O'Neill & M Wilson eds. (2010) Curating and the Educational Turn Open Editions/de Appel.

Smith, Hazel and Dean, R. T (2009) Practice-led research, research-led practice in the creative arts, Edinburgh University Press.

Sullivan, G. (2005) Art practice as research : inquiry in visual arts.  London: SAGE.

Smith, Ralph Alexander, (2001) ed. Aesthetics and criticism in art education: Problems in defining, explaining, and evaluating art. Reston, VA: National Art Education Association

Documents in Contemporary Art Series: https://mitpress.mit.edu/books/series/whitechapel-documents-contemporary-art

Punch, Keith, F, Developing Effective Research Proposals, Sage, 2006

Schwendener, M. 2009. What Crisis? Some Promising Futures for Art Criticism. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-01-07/art/what-crisis-some-promising-futures-for-art-criticism/. [Accessed 25 February 19].

Journal Resources

Aesthetica combines editorials with critical debate on contemporary visual culture.

Afterall: A Journal of Art, Context and Enquiry: In depth analysis of contemporary art related to society, politics and philosophy.

Artforum / Artforum International Contemporary art magazine containing essays and reviews by noted critics and artists.

Art Bulletin and Art Journal  Peer reviewed articles on the visual arts. Published by the College Art Association (CAA).

e-fluxA publishing/curatorial platform and archive for contemporary art, culture and theory internationally.

Parkett International contemporary art explored by writers and critics.


URL Resources

Art 21: https://art21.org/

ARTSTOR: https://www.artstor.org/

Visual Thinking Strategies http://www.vtshome.org/

Read Write Think; an initiative of the International Reading Association  http://www.readwritethink.org/

Project Zero: Artful Thinking   http://www.pzartfulthinking.org/index.php

Association of Art Editors Style Guide https://www.artedit.org/style-guide.php

Journal for Artistic Research https://www.jar-online.net/

DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) https://doaj.org/



Other Resources

Visual Thinking Strategies http://www.vtshome.org/

Read Write Think; an initiative of the International Reading Association  http://www.readwritethink.org/

Project Zero: Artful Thinking   http://www.pzartfulthinking.org/index.php

Association of Art Editors Style Guide https://www.artedit.org/style-guide.php

Journal for Artistic Research https://www.jar-online.net/

Documenta, Kasel www.documenta.de  ev+a, Limerick www.eva.ie  Frieze Art Fair, London www.friezeartfair.com Liverpool Biennial www.biennial.com/  Manifesta,European Biennale of Contemporary Art www.manifesta.org Skulptur Projekte Münsterwww.skulptur-projekte.de  Venice Biennale www.labiennale.org 

Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead www.balticmill.com Centres Georges Pompidou, Paris www.cnac-gp.fr Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao www.guggenheim-bilbao.es ICA Institute of Contemporary Arts, London www.ica.org.uk Kunst-WerkeInstitute for Contemporary Art, Berlin www.kw-berlin.de Maxxi, Rome www.maxxi.parc.beniculturali.it/english/museo.htm Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York www.metmuseum.org  MOMA Museum of Modern Art, New York www.moma.org  Reina Sofia, Madrid www.museoreinasofia.es  Saatchi Gallery, London www.saatchi-gallery.co.uk Serpentine Gallery, London www.serpentinegallery.org Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York www.guggenheim.org Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam www.stedelijk.nl Tate Modern, London www.tate.org.uk Whitechapel Gallery, London www.whitechapel.org

VLE Moodle Resources

Additional Information