Artist’s Materials and Techniques

Note: You will be expected to submit an annotated bibliography. This comprises 5% of the total mark for the course. The bibliography can comprise print sources (books, articles, and chapters – these may be in physical or online form), websites, podcasts, and videos.

You are strongly encouraged to use websites created by an academic institution or a museum (these are websites that end with .edu, .ac.uk, and so on).

While it may be necessary to make use of commercial websites in some cases, I will expect to see a rationale presented for such choices. The annotated bibliography should contain the full citation of the publication or website, including details such as author(s), editor(s), article/chapter title, book title, name of publisher, location of publication, year of publication, page range, website title, URL, and so on.

The annotations should provide brief details about the content/nature of the publication, the arguments advanced by the scholar (where relevant), and what you drew from it. Write about three or four sentences for each one. You do not need to include websites that you have used only for gathering images. For your projects you should be consulting 5-8 publications, and at least half of them should be print sources (i.e. books, e-books, articles, and chapters).

Essay

The essay should be 4-5 page in length. Remember that the goal of an essay is to put forward an interpretation of a body of evidence and not merely to summarize it. In other words, you need to collect some data on your chosen topic and then introduce your own insights in order to tell the reader something new. Hence, you will need in the introduction to state what your essay will be about (i.e. the subject matter) but also make a statement of what you will argue through your presentation of the evidence. You should also make space at the end to have a conclusion. This needs to be more than just a summary of the content of the previous paragraphs; leave the reader with some additional insight into the topic. When you have collected your evidence, don’t start writing immediately; an effective strategy is to plan out on a piece of paper how you will arrange the content and interpretation. If you have a plan laid out it will be easier to write the introduction, and the ordering of the remaining paragraphs will be more straightforward. When you have fixed on a topic get in contact with me by email to discuss it, and do make an appointment for the office hour.

Choose one of the following subjects for your essay. 

Note: Most of the essay subjects deal with general issues, but you are advised to focus your attention when you approach your essay. For instance, you may choose to limit your argument to a single region or period. In some of the essay subjects it may be a good idea to restrict your discussion to one or twomedia.

  • Why does the social status of the artist/artisan appear to vary in different periods of human history? Should the consideration of social status have an impact on the way we understand the objects we study?
  • Carving is a common technique for forming objects. What differences exist between the carving techniques used in organic materials, such as wood and ivory, and in various types of stone?
  • What do we learn from about traditional craft practices by reading the accounts of artists/craftspeople, contracts, or the descriptions of art and architecture written during the Renaissance or Medieval periods?
  • To what extent does a consideration of gender contribute to our understanding of traditional craft practices? In your answer you can also reflect on whether there are cultural and geographical factors that define gendered divisions in craft activities.
  • How well do major museum websites communicate information about the materials and methods that were involved in the manufacture of paintings, sculptures, and other artifacts? In this essay, pick on one or two major museum collections and offer critical responses to the ways in which manufacturing practices and materials are dealt with. How might greater attention to these issues enrich the experience of users of such sites?

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