SMC Core Curriculum Course Proposal Form
Electronically submit a copy of the course proposal form and attachments to
the Chair of the CCC. Please submit a separate copy of the proposal form for
each learning goal.
1. Name of Proposer: Costanza Gislon Dopfel
2. Email address: [email protected]
3. Department/Program of Proposer: Art History
4. Name of Department/Program housing the course: Art History
5. Name(s) of Program Director/Department Chair (if not the proposer): Anna
6. Course Acronym, Number and Title: AH002 NON-WESTERN ART HISTORY
7. Semester(s) in which course will be offered: Fall 2012
8. How often is this course taught? Every year or every other year depending on
9. Course Prerequisites (if any): none
10. Unit Value of Course: 1
11. Proper Audience for the course (delete those that don’t apply): all
12. The Learning Goals for which the course is being submitted
(Courses may apply for at most one Pathways to Knowledge goal, and for as many
Engaging the World goals as is appropriate. Please complete a separate proposal
form for desired goal.)
Engaging the World – Global Perspectives
Costanza Gislon Dopfel
AH 002 Non-Western Art History
The course covers all non-Western art from pre-history to modern day in 13 units,
including not only thousands of objects, but also thousands of years of human
history as reflected in many different styles, cultures and artistic movements.
Because of the range and complexity of the material, a historical, religious as well as
geographic framework is utilized to help students recognize and distinguish specific
features that will enable them to connect an artwork to a period and culture.
The specific non-European and non-Western viewpoint used to frame the course
is the spreading of Buddhism and Islam; since these two main religious movements
offer both constants and variables within each geographical area, the students can
focus on both similarities and differences – which are interpreted based on the
influences of the local cultures. This religious lens serves as the portal through
which the students view historical and cultural transformations.
Concomitantly with Norris Palmer's introduction to Buddhist religion at the very
beginning of the semester, students examined the earliest examples of Buddhist
temples and Buddha representations in India and then followed their influence on
the art of China, Indonesia and Japan. Key to this process of discovery and
recognition is a visit to the Asian Art Museum, where the students spend several
hours looking at objects that reflect such transformations, completing the visit with
a tea ceremony and discussing its connection to Zen Buddhism.
Similarly, several weeks of the course are dedicated to discussing the rise of Islam
and its influence on the art of Asia, Africa and the Mediterranean
Learning GOALS:
The course satisfies both Goal 1 and 2
1- Analyze the process of globalization by using different theoretical perspectives
and debates on a broad range of issues (including issues of dependence and
The spread of Buddhism and Islam is examined as both the engine and the result of
economic, political and cultural globalization. Consequently, students are asked to
discuss the difference between the two in terms of territorial conquest and
ideological dissemination from a perspective of historical, geographical and
economic interdependence.
1. Demonstrate an understanding of the world from a specific non-U.S. and nonWestern European viewpoint.
By focusing on the two main religions, students examine the multiple aspects of
a specific non-Western religious movement and its different
artistic incarnations in sculpture, architecture and painting, while
identifying regional differences as indicators of distinctive cultural
backgrounds and outlooks.
Students develop:
- An understanding of the basic values of two main religious movements –
Islam and Buddhism – and their influence on individual world cultures (Goal
1 and 2)
- The tools for analyzing non-Western artwork through the cultural
framework of the two religions (Goal 2)
- A historical understanding of world events, their interconnection and their
effect on art production (Goal 1)
- An understanding of the wide scope of artistic expressions within each
religion (Goal 2)
Additionally, as indicated in the Syllabus, students acquire:
- The ability to recognize, compare and analyze individual works of art not as
isolated episodes, but as part of the broad history of human events, using
appropriate analytical techniques. Students will specifically examine Buddhist and
Islamic art both as expression of individual civilizations and as the manifestation of
a global culture developed through historical, social, religious and economic
- The understanding of issues of aesthetic differences and socio-historical influence
in artistic production, especially in areas of Asia and Africa where Buddhism and
Islam have exerted a great influence on all cultural expression. Students will
examine art both as indicator of individual civilizations and as the manifestation of a
global culture developed through historical, social, religious and economic
- The familiarity and appropriate use of the necessary terminology to discuss and
analyze various artistic expressions, while developing an awareness of the
difference in the vocabulary needed to appropriately discuss non-Western art in
contrast to Western art.
The assessment is articulated through the following activities:
- Identify individual artwork (midterm and final)
- Relate individual artwork to local socio-artistic environment (midterm and final,
unit summaries)
- Connect artwork to global cultural/religious/ political situation (midterm and
final, unit summaries)
- Analyze artwork orally (presentations)
- Analyze artwork in writing (final paper)
At the end of each unit, students are asked to summarize, either individually or in
small groups, the main points/artworks/movements they have encountered. The
written result is then shared with the class and evaluated as part of class
participation. This exercise has the purpose of allowing students to independently
create firmer reference points or ‘hooks’ upon which to base the corresponding
information, as well as to provide the instructor with a constant check on what the
students have retained, fully understood or misunderstood.
A midterm consisting of questions requiring both analysis and content knowledge
precedes a final exam based on factual knowledge, plus a 3,000 word analytical
paper. The final exam focuses on recognition, contextualization and interpretation,
while the final essay focuses on critical thinking, research and writing skills, use of
appropriate terminology and methodology as well as the student’s ability to
synthetize what was learned in class and to make it her own by providing an
original, individual and independent interpretation of the chosen artwork.
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