Term Paper On Arts

essay presentation arts 105 (PowerPoint shown in class)

Thesis Examples (with accompanying outlines and bibliography)

research rubric

writing workshops outlines

Ancient and Contemporary Art Comparison – Arts 105/Art History I Research Paper

Assignment description:

This paper will be an ongoing assignment throughout the semester meant to develop your cultural appreciation as well as improve your writing, research, critical thinking, and independent learning skills. You will work throughout the semester on this paper to develop a carefully researched and organized thesis essay.

For this paper, you will compare and contrast a work of art of your choice from the time periods and cultures discussed in this class (prehistory to 1400 CE) with a work done by a contemporary artist discussed in PBS’s Art 21 series. The website for this show is http://www.pbs.org/art21/.

Ultimately, the thematic connection between the ancient/historical work and the contemporary artist’s work must be clearly defined as the thesis of your paper. Works of art throughout cultures and time periods address similar themes in different ways. Artists today are still creatively addressing many of the same themes as artists of the past.  For example, artists throughout time have created works that deal with death and the afterlife. Your paper could focus on that as a thematic connection between the two works, however there are many other thematic relationships you could chose. You should examine a unique connection between the two works through a well-researched and focused thesis essay.  In other words, these two pieces should not be chosen at random. There should be a well-defined reason that it is interesting to compare these works. The nature of your comparison should have a thematic focus. This will become the thesis of this research paper.

Your thesis should be defended throughout the paper with careful analysis and research of the works and cultures discussed.

Examples of possible paper topics (Please note: These are only examples. You are encouraged to think of your own topics. Also, please keep in mind these are examples of paper topics.  Examples of thesis statements can be found at the end of this project description):

1)    Compare/contrast James Turrell’s contemporary Earthwork Roden Crater with England’s prehistoric Stonehenge. Compare/contrast the scale and purpose of both of these works as well as the relationship each work has with the land, the sun, and the sky.

2)    Compare/contrast Maya Lin’s Storm King Wave Field with the ancient Native American Great Serpent Mound in Ohio. How do the function of each work and use of the sculpted land compare/contrast?

3)    The role of gender and power has been expressed in many different art forms throughout history. Compare and contrast the representation of women in Night Attack on the Sanjo Palace from Kamakura Japan with the work Bombs and Victims by the contemporary American artists Nancy Spero.

4)    Artists have memorialized war throughout time. Compare and contrast Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial with the ancient Akkadian Victory Stele of Naram-Sin.

An “A” paper is well organized and thorough, is turned in on time, is the correct length, has little or no spelling or grammatical errors, gives accurate visual analysis using art historical terminology discussed in class, places works within the context of their time and culture, and includes both formal and conceptual analysis of works cited. Please note this is a thesis essay and should include careful organization of thoughts and ideas to defend a central thesis throughout.

Please follow the writing and research rubric provided by your instructor to see what to consider when writing this paper as well as suggestions and resources for improvement.

Because of the complexity of this assignment, and also to emphasize the process of writing, you will be required to turn in documents at multiple stages of writing this paper. Here is a list of things to hand in:

Thesis Statement, Outline, and Bibliography of Research Paper Due – You must have at least 4 academic sources

Final Draft of Research Paper Due – Please turn in marked outline/bibliography with final paper.

*Please note: Any work turned in after the due date will go down one letter grade each day after it is due.

Specifics:  This paper should be at least 4 pages in length. You must have at least4 appropriate academic sources in your bibliography. An appropriate academic source includes books, articles (in journals, magazines, and newspapers) as well as credible websites. The CCBC library has many databases available for research on this paper as well as helpful tools in finding and evaluating websites. You can find all these resources on the CCBC library website at http://library.ccbcmd.edu/. This site also includes guides for citation. Be sure to cite all of your sources throughout. You should use MLA or APA format.  Please refer to these resources as well as class discussion for further help in finding, evaluating, and citing sources for this paper. If you have any questions, please ask your instructor for help.

Please be sure to include an image page, which includes an image of all works discussed in this essay. Please label each image (as in “image 1”, “images 2”, etc.) and refer to the image when you discuss it in your paper. Please note: Your book does this by putting the work it is discussing in parentheses such as (FIG. 1-1).

Use Stokstad’s Starter Kit (pg. xxvi-xxix) in your required text as a useful guide to terminology on discussing art as well as notes from lectures and your research to help in writing your paper.

If you need help in writing your paper, please make an appointment to meet with your instructor. CCBC has a writing center.  I encourage all of you to take advantage of the writing center! You will receive 5 points extra credit on this paper if you visit the writing center.

Developing a Strong Thesis

Your thesis is “the point” of your paper. A thesis must be specific and focused. A strong thesis must propose some arguable point of view. Please refer to class discussion on thesis development and the following website for some help in developing a strong thesis:


Students Thesis Statement Examples:

The following are two strong student examples of thesis statements used for this assignment. We will discuss these two examples in class.

Example #1

The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial (figures 1 and 2) by Maya Lin and the ancient Akkadian Victory Stele of Naram-Sin (figure 3) are both memorials to war. The Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is an artistic expression that pays tribute not to the victor, but to the fallen soldiers as a whole. Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial is more about mourning the loss of life in war rather than glorifying the victory of one country over another. In no way does it praise one specific country. In contrast, the ancient Akkadian Victory Stele of Naram-Sin celebrates the triumph of one man over an entire group of people. It idealizes and glorifies Naram-Sin, even portraying him on equal footing with the gods. It glorifies war and warriors. These two works exemplify very different ways of representing war and are reflections of two very different cultural contexts. Maya Lin’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial was created during a time that war was not always idealized while the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin was created by a culture that glorified war and conquest.

Example #2

Achieving perfection has been the goal of many sculptors since the dawn of artistic expression. This pursuit is most often attempted through the use of idealism, but perfection, as a concept, means different things to different people and cultures. In ancient Greece, perfection came in the form of bronze statues depicting nude athletes and warriors. One of the greatest examples of this is Doryphoros or Spear Bearer, by Polyclitus (image one). In the western culture of the last century a new idea of perfection has formed. The idea of pollution-free or “green” ecosystems has become a new cultural ideal. This can be seen in Revival Field by Mel chin (image two).  These two sculptures illustrate two linked but distinctly different cultures striving for their over ideas of perfection.


The Plagiarism policy for this class follows those outlined by CCBC. Plagiarism is a violation of academic integrity.  It is defined in the CCBC code of conduct, section 13n as “the use of words or ideas of another source without giving credit to the source.” In this course your instructor will impose all standard sanctions for plagiarism. If the evidence of an act of plagiarism in convincing, your will receive an F for this course. In addition to the failure of this course, your instructor will report the incident. Once reported, the college may impose additional sanctions such as suspension or expulsion. For further information, see the CCBC Code of Conduct.



Other useful Internet sites to consider using for research:







Like this:


Writing a paper for an art history course is similar to the analytical, research-based papers that you may have written in English literature courses or history courses. Although art historical research and writing does include the analysis of written documents, there are distinctive differences between art history writing and other disciplines because the primary documents are works of art. A key reference guide for researching and analyzing works of art and for writing art history papers is the 10th edition (or later) of Sylvan Barnet’s work, A Short Guide to Writing about Art. Barnet directs students through the steps of thinking about a research topic, collecting information, and then writing and documenting a paper.

A website with helpful tips for writing art history papers is posted by the University of North Carolina,

Wesleyan University Writing Center has a useful guide for finding online writing resources,

The following are basic guidelines that you must use when documenting research papers for any art history class at UALR. Solid, thoughtful research and correct documentation of the sources used in this research (i.e., footnotes/endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations**) are essential. Additionally, these Guidelines remind students about plagiarism, a serious academic offense.

Paper Format

Research papers should be in a 12-point font, double-spaced. Ample margins should be left for the instructor’s comments. All margins should be one inch to allow for comments. Number all pages. The cover sheet for the paper should include the following information: title of paper, your name, course title and number, course instructor, and date paper is submitted. A simple presentation of a paper is sufficient. Staple the pages together at the upper left or put them in a simple three-ring folder or binder. Do not put individual pages in plastic sleeves.

Documentation of Resources

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), as described in the most recent edition of Sylvan Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing about Art is the department standard. Although you may have used MLA style for English papers or other disciplines, the Chicago Style is required for all students taking art history courses at UALR. There are significant differences between MLA style and Chicago Style. A “Quick Guide” for the Chicago Manual of Style footnote and bibliography format is found http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. The footnote examples are numbered and the bibliography example is last. Please note that the place of publication and the publisher are enclosed in parentheses in the footnote, but they are not in parentheses in the bibliography. Examples of CMS for some types of note and bibliography references are given below in this Guideline. Arabic numbers are used for footnotes. Some word processing programs may have Roman numerals as a choice, but the standard is Arabic numbers. The use of super script numbers, as given in examples below, is the standard in UALR art history papers.

A. Print

The chapter “Manuscript Form” in the Barnet book (10th edition or later) provides models for the correct forms for footnotes/endnotes and the bibliography. For example, the note form for the FIRST REFERENCE to a book with a single author is:

1Bruce Cole, Italian Art 1250-1550 (New York: New York University Press, 1971), 134.

But the BIBLIOGRAPHIC FORM for that same book is:

Cole, Bruce. Italian Art 1250-1550. New York: New York University Press. 1971.

The FIRST REFERENCE to a journal article (in a periodical that is paginated by volume) with a single author in a footnote is:

2 Anne H. Van Buren, “Madame Cézanne’s Fashions and the Dates of Her Portraits,” Art Quarterly 29 (1966): 199.

The FIRST REFERENCE to a journal article (in a periodical that is paginated by volume) with a single author in the BIBLIOGRAPHY is:

Van Buren, Anne H. “Madame Cézanne’s Fashions and the Dates of Her Portraits.” Art Quarterly 29 (1966): 185-204.

If you reference an article that you found through an electronic database such as JSTOR, you do not include the url for JSTOR or the date accessed in either the footnote or the bibliography. This is because the article is one that was originally printed in a hard-copy journal; what you located through JSTOR is simply a copy of printed pages. Your citation follows the same format for an article in a bound volume that you may have pulled from the library shelves. If, however, you use an article that originally was in an electronic format and is available only on-line, then follow the “non-print” forms listed below.

B. Non-Print

Citations for Internet sources such as online journals or scholarly web sites should follow the form described in Barnet’s chapter, “Writing a Research Paper.” For example, the footnote or endnote reference given by Barnet for a web site is:

3 Nigel Strudwick, Egyptology Resources, with the assistance of The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, 1994, revised 16 June 2008, http://www.newton.ac.uk/egypt/, 24 July 2008.

If you use microform or microfilm resources, consult the most recent edition of Kate Turabian, A Manual of Term Paper, Theses and Dissertations. A copy of Turabian is available at the reference desk in the main library.

C. Visual Documentation (Illustrations)

Art history papers require visual documentation such as photographs, photocopies, or scanned images of the art works you discuss. In the chapter “Manuscript Form” in A Short Guide to Writing about Art, Barnet explains how to identify illustrations or “figures” in the text of your paper and how to caption the visual material. Each photograph, photocopy, or scanned image should appear on a single sheet of paper unless two images and their captions will fit on a single sheet of paper with one inch margins on all sides. Note also that the title of a work of art is always italicized. Within the text, the reference to the illustration is enclosed in parentheses and placed at the end of the sentence. A period for the sentence comes after the parenthetical reference to the illustration. For UALR art history papers, illustrations are placed at the end of the paper, not within the text. Illustration are not supplied as a Powerpoint presentation or as separate .jpgs submitted in an electronic format.

Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream, dated 1893, represents a highly personal, expressive response to an experience the artist had while walking one evening (Figure 1).

The caption that accompanies the illustration at the end of the paper would read:

Figure 1. Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893. Tempera and casein on cardboard, 36 x 29″ (91.3 x 73.7 cm). Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo, Norway.


Plagiarism is a form of thievery and is illegal. According to Webster’s New World Dictionary, to plagiarize is to “take and pass off as one’s own the ideas, writings, etc. of another.” Barnet has some useful guidelines for acknowledging sources in his chapter “Manuscript Form;” review them so that you will not be mguilty of theft. Another useful website regarding plagiarism is provided by Cornell University, http://plagiarism.arts.cornell.edu/tutorial/index.cfm

Plagiarism is a serious offense, and students should understand that checking papers for plagiarized content is easy to do with Internet resources. Plagiarism will be reported as academic dishonesty to the Dean of Students; see Section VI of the Student Handbook which cites plagiarism as a specific violation. Take care that you fully and accurately acknowledge the source of another author, whether you are quoting the material verbatim or paraphrasing. Borrowing the idea of another author by merely changing some or even all of your source’s words does not allow you to claim the ideas as your own. You must credit both direct quotes and your paraphrases. Again, Barnet’s chapter “Manuscript Form” sets out clear guidelines for avoiding plagiarism.


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