HUMN 311 S004: 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.

Special Topics

Course content: 

Topic: The Artist as Ethnographer

This course examines “the ethnographic turn” in contemporary art and its implications for the practicing artist. The phrase “ethnographic turn” refers to a movement in contemporary art whereby artists have adopted the methodologies of ethnographic collecting and display as part of their work. 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 cultural artifacts, the role of the archive, the critique of social scientific authority, the history of exhibit design, problems in representation, and the tension between public and private funding of museums and galleries. Artists whose work will be reviewed include Fred Wilson, Louise Lawler, Mark Dion, Andrea Fraser, Lothar Baumgarten, Iris Haussler, and Liz Magor, among others. The course includes readings in art history and anthropology, field trips to several museums, and a sustained studio project.


Completion of Second Year

Additional comments: 
TOPIC: The Artist as Ethnographer
Instructor information: 
Meeting Information: 
Date / Time Days Room Building
Jan 7-Apr 18