The paper you produce for the course “Women in Art” 3227 will need to analyze one or more artworks by one artist who identifies as a woman, as trans, or as gender queer.
You may be writing about one or more artwork(s) by a single artist for this paper, but the paper should not be a biography of the artist. Some description of their biography may be included if you decide this is very relevant to the argument you want to make in your paper, but you should be writing primarily about the artwork or artworks, not primarily about the artist.
Your paper must include all of the numbers items that follow. It may include some of the indented items preceded by letters:
1. A statement of your main thesis (the argument you are making in your paper)
2. A detailed description of the artwork(s).
Do not assume your reader already knows the artwork in question. Describe it as if you are writing for someone who has never seen it or heard of it before reading your paper. Be sure to identify the artist, title, the year or years the artwork was made, its medium (i.e. oil on canvas, cast bronze, performance, black and white video, etc), and its dimensions.
The description may also include some of the following:
a. A formal analysis
b. A description of the materials and/or techniques used to make the artwork
c. A description of the context in which the work was made and/or the context(s) in which it has been shown and viewed
d. A description of any documented or published reaction or criticism of the artwork
3. Details that support the argument presented in your thesis statement
These may include some of the following. Choose those that seem most relevant to the topic you have chosen and the argument you are trying to make:
An explanation of the significance of the elements you chose to write about when you described the artwork
Theoretical, historical, or social contexts of the object, artist, or time period
The object’s relationship to ideas about gender, class, artistic creation, culture, or politics associated with the time period during which it was made
A stylistic analysis
4. A conclusion
Even though you may be new to analyzing the visual arts, the skills you have learned for writing papers in other fields will serve you well here too. If you have ever analyzed a poem or developed an understanding of a historical period, you are prepared to think and write like an art historian. You must still make an argument about something, but in this case you will use art (instead of, say, what you read in a book) to build and defend your argument. See this handout for additional useful details:
The purpose of a critical analysis is not merely to inform, but also to evaluate the work (or works) of art about which you are writing.
Even though as a writer you set the standards and chose the criteria you will use to evaluate the artwork(s), you should be open-minded, well informed, and fair. You can express your opinions, but you should also back them up with evidence.
Avoid introducing your ideas by stating “I think” or “in my opinion.” Keep the focus on the subject of your analysis, not on yourself.
Other questions to consider: Is there a controversy surrounding either the artwork or the subject that it concerns?
What about the subject matter is of current interest, or what was of particular interest at the time the artwork was made?
What are its strengths and weaknesses?
Support your thesis with detailed evidence.
Your review should provide information, interpretation, and evaluation. The information will help your reader understand the nature of the work under analysis. The interpretation will explain the meaning of the work, therefore requiring your correct understanding of it. The evaluation will discuss your opinions of the work and present valid justification for them.
Remember to always cite your sources (including website url, if applicable) for all of your writing. See A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers by Kate L. Turabian, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London, Seventh Edition, 2007 and/or this link for a shorthand guide and additional resources.