Reviews of Classes taught by T. Kaori Kitao of the Art and Art History Department

Art History - Western Art

Art History 002

Name: Brendan Karch Year: 2002 Major: History Course: ARTH 002 - Western Art Taken Fall 1998 Recommends?

This class seems to be the sort of pot luck class in the art history department in terms of student types. It attracts majors (it's required, I think), art majors, recreational artists, and complete non-artists. It's a survey course in the strictest sense in that it covers tons of material (10,000 years worth) in little time (13 weeks worth). It is enitrely lecture based; no discussions are held, no questions are asked. Essentially, you sit and listen to a sometimes overwhelmingly epic overview of Western art.

The main textbook is a reference guide and it will likely look worn by the end of the semester. You will have to memorize works, artists, and dates. Hundreds of them. Thorough reading of the main textbook and/or looking at the pretty pictures accompanying the text will be your main work besides class attendance. With all the breadth, there are few chances to pause and examine works in depth, though some artists certainly get more play than others. There are secondary readings, but they are usually put off or entirely ignored because they are not discussed in class at all.

Prof. Kitao (soon to retire) takes one's ability into account, grading students without ARTH1 more easily. Few grades are given; there was, when I took it, an introductory paper on Greek art (4 pages or so) and then a term paper on a work in the PMA (10 pages or so); then, of course, the midterm and final. The grades are also pretty openly weighted towards the term paper and final, so messing up on one could mess up one's grade.

I can only recommend this class for certain types, namely, those who want a kind of "I know that work," museum-going knowledge of art. It is better suited than ARTH1 for that purpose, since the latter introduces you to the study of art history while the former skips straight to the art history. It can be daunting to keep up with the rapid pace of the lectures and the syllabus, and it can be frustrating to try and write like an art historian without the experience of ARTH1. But it can also be extremely rewarding, if for no other reason than to differentiate between the four ninja turtles.

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