HUMN 311 F002: Visual Art Seminar

These seminars are taught from the viewpoint of a practicing artist, and focus on historical and/or contemporary issues relevant to particular disciplines or subjects. Seminars develop student critical awareness of the content and context of cultural production in relation to a wide range of practices and theories. Students attend lectures and discussion groups; in addition they are required to undertake research, give presentations, complete visual projects, and write papers. Descriptions of specific seminar topics are available by clicking the section hotlink on myEC or through

Priority is given to CRCP, PHOT, ILUS, and VIAR students in Years 3 and 4. Students outside of the registration priority group may register/waitlist for this course as of the registration rule release date.

Course content: 

Topic: The Artist as Ethnographer
This course examines “the ethnographic turn” in contemporary art and its implications for the visual arts. The phrase “ethnographic turn” refers to a movement in contemporary art whereby artists have adopted the methodologies of collecting and display developed by anthropology. The artistic use of social scientific methods parallels the recognition within postmodern anthropology that its documents too are cultural products. The course will survey such issues as the preservation and display of artifacts, the critique of social scientific authority, the history of exhibit design, the tension between the real and the represented, and the role of artists as participant-­observers in the field. Artists whose work will be reviewed include Joseph Beuys, Fred Wilson, Louise Lawler, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Sam Durant, Lothar Baumgarten, Iris Haussler, James Luna, Juan Munoz and Liz Magor, among others. The course includes readings in art history and anthropology, field trips to selected exhibitions, and a studio project or research paper.


Completion of 51 credits

Additional comments: 
TOPIC: The Artist as Ethnographer
Instructor information: 
Meeting Information: 
Date / Time Days Room Building
Sep 9-Dec 17
W A4010 MAIN