Explorations in the Arts

Section 3, Spring 2017, Fridays, 2:10 pm – 5 pm


Classroom:   116 West Building
Meetings:   Fridays, 2:10 pm – 5 pm
Instructor: Jen DeGregorio
Office hours:   by appointment Wednesdays or Fridays
email: jdegrego@hunter.cuny.edu

Course description
This course is an introduction to the arts, focusing on principles they share as well as their distinguishing features. The course introduces students to the arts through performances and exhibitions in New York City. As a class, we visit museums and attend theater, dance, and music performances. Together we explore the means of expression particular to each genre, and develop ways of describing, evaluating, and questioning these varied cultural experiences. Our aims are to cultivate aesthetic appreciation and enjoyment of these various art forms and, moving beyond subjective responses, to use diverse analytical methodologies as a means to form critical opinions about each work, learning to express these views clearly both verbally and in writing. Our focus will primarily be on contemporary artworks, work made by living artists, so we may examine broader contextual, social, and historical understandings that support our developing aesthetic appreciation and evaluation skills.

Course methodology
Readings and discussions will emphasize the social context of art in order to bring to the fore the ways in which the art and performances we experience together reflect issues pertinent to issues of identity and concern for today’s artists and audience members. These discussions will further explore the ways in which the most effective art simultaneously illuminates universal conceptions of individual identity and concern regardless of its specific social context.

Expected Learning Outcomes
Students will:

  • Gather, interpret, and assess information from a variety of sources and points of view. Students are required to attend various performances (music, dance, theatre) and art exhibitions over the course of the semester. After reading primary source texts and critical essays relevant to a particular performance or other form of artistic expression, students write short papers and Art Reports in which they demonstrate their understanding of what they have seen/experienced on several analytic levels.
  • Evaluate evidence and arguments critically or analytically. Students are asked in their writing assignments and oral presentations to critically engage the assigned readings, specific works of art, museum exhibits, and artistic performances in dance, music and theatre. Throughout the semester, students must demonstrate their ability to analyze different kinds of artistic production not only in individual written assignments (short papers, Arts Reports, blog posts), but also in a photo journal, a final group project (digital essay), and class discussions.
  • Produce well-reasoned written or oral arguments using evidence to support conclusions.   Students must demonstrate their understanding of specific primary and secondary source texts, selected for individual sections of the course, by applying critically the major arguments developed in these readings to their own analyses of works of art that the class has gone to see together or that they have seen on their own as part of an independent project.  Over the course of the semester, students have the chance to develop their analytical skills in various writing assignments.
  • Identify and apply the fundamental concepts and methods of creative expression as employed by the history and criticism of art.  Students learn and must apply research methods and concepts from the history and criticism of art (broadly defined) in their papers and class discussions.
  • Articulate how meaning is created in the arts or communications and how experience is interpreted and conveyed.  Students are required to identify the key characteristics of particular forms that constitute the varied artistic genres examined by the class throughout the semester (such as character, setting, costume, language, the concept of time, in a theatrical work). Throughout the course, students are asked to analyze the creative process on several different levels, as it is experienced subjectively and also -with the help of reading assignments, lectures and class discussions – on aesthetic, historical, social, and political levels.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the skills involved in the creative process. Students are expected to develop skills in visual literacy by engaging firsthand with different artistic and creative endeavors. By the end of the course students should be able to identify the formal aesthetic characteristics of these the works of art and their social significance, and able to describe these characteristics not only in written assignments and class discussions but also actively employ them in the creation of a photo journal  and video essay that they present to the class.

Web requirements

  • Blackboard: You will submit your two 3-4 page papers to Blackboard for grading. Other grades associated with your WordPress submissions will be recorded on Blackboard.
  • WordPress: You will be added as an author for our course WordPress website, which will remain private to all users beyond our classroom. You will use this website to access reading materials and to post blog responses, essays (which also go to Blackboard), and links to your final digital assignment. Other posts may be required.

Required Readings
Selected readings available on course website

Assignments and grade breakdown

  • Writing Assignments (50% of final grade)
    • 2 short papers submitted on Blackboard (30% of final grade)
    • Blog posts (20% of final grade)
      • Over the course of the semester you will submit blog posts between 250 and 500 words for the different encounters with the arts we experience as a class. See Course Schedule for due dates.
  • Final digital project: (20% of final grade)
  • Attendance and Class Participation: (30% of final grade)
    • You are expected to attend all classes and all outside events/performances and to participate actively in class discussions. Any absences will adversely affect your grade.

Hunter College Policies


Hunter College regards acts of academic dishonesty (e.g., plagiarism, cheating on examinations, obtaining unfair advantage, and falsification of records and official documents) as serious offenses against the values of intellectual honesty. The College is committed to enforcing the CUNY Policy on Academic Integrity and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty according to the Hunter College Academic Integrity Procedures.

Students with disabilities:

In compliance with the American Disability Act of 1990 (ADA) and with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Hunter College is committed to ensuring educational parity and accommodations for all students with documented disabilities and/or medical conditions. It is recommended that all students with documented disabilities (Emotional, Medical, Physical and/ or Learning) consult the Office of AccessABILITY located in Room El 124 to secure necessary academic accommodations. For further information and assistm1ce please call (212- 772- 4857) /TTY (212- 650- 3230).

Class dates and schedule:
See Course Schedule Menu Link