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Unit information: Modern Art in the USA 1900-1939 (Lecture Response Unit) in 2015/16

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Unit name Modern Art in the USA 1900-1939 (Lecture Response Unit)
Unit code HART20005
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Ms. Tricha Passes
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will explore the emergence of Modern Art in the U.S.A. from 1900 to 1939 set against the shifting aesthetic, social and political concerns of the period. The Realism of the Ash Can School, Alfred Stieglitz’s Gallery ‘291’, the reception of the 1913 Armory Show, New York Dada, the Society of Independent Artists, Katherine Dreier’s Societe Anonyme, the Precisionists, Jazz Age Harlem, the impact of Surrealism, the Regionalists, the inauguration of MoMA and the Federal Arts Project of the Works Progress Administration as well as the artists’ colony in New Mexico are all subjects that will be addressed. The development of film and photography plus the significant contribution brought to the U.S.A by European artists will also form part of the study alongside an examination of the Transatlantic influx of American artists to Paris such as Man Ray, Alexander Calder, Stuart Davis and Lee Miller.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a good knowledge and understanding of Modern Art in the U.S.A in the period leading up to the Second World War; (2) a deeper understanding of how of American identity impacted on its visual arts at the start of the Twentieth Century; (3) further developed the ability to analyse and evaluate visual sources in a variety of media (4) demonstrated the ability to select pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate arguments regarding the shifting aesthetic, social and political concerns of the period.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

One summative essay of 3000 words (50%) and one unseen examination of two hours (50%). Both elements will assess knowledge and understanding of Modern Art in the U.S.A from 1900-1939 and of the aesthetic controversies that dominated this period. Both the essay and the exam will also require students to demonstrate ILOs (2), (3) and (4) as they analyse and evaluate visual sources, debate, illustrate and construct valid arguments in their written answers.

Reading and References

Corn, Wanda; The Great American Thing Modern Art and National Identity, 1915-1935, University of California Press, 1999. Harris, Jonathan; Federal Art and National Culture: The Politics of Identity in New Deal America,Cambridge, 1999. Haskell, Barbara; The American Century: Art and Culture 1900-1950, New York and London 1999. Tashjian, Dickran; A Boatload of Madmen Surrealism and the American Avant-Garde 1920-1950 Thanes & Hudson, 1995. Jones, Amelia; Irrational Modernism: A neurasthenic History of New York Dada, MIT, 2004.