Research Paper Assignment Instructions
Continuing to focus on the artwork that was the subject of your Formal Analysis Paper, you will conduct scholarly research to deepen your knowledge of this work of art. Based on your research and close observation, you will compose an interpretive research paper.
Part 1: Research
Gather, read, and take notes on at least 5 scholarly sources about your artwork and/or artist that have been published in print. Your task is to learn as much as possible about your artwork, such as:
• its material constitution (What is it made of? What is its medium?)
• how it was made
• how it fits into the artist’s larger practice
• how it relates to its immediate movement and to the larger art historical period of modernism • how it relates to modernity, or the social/cultural/economic/political context of its time • how previous scholars/critics/art historians have interpreted the work (this information is crucial to forming a thesis for your interpretive research paper)
Good places to look for books and essays include the Architecture, Design, & Art library online catalogue, course syllabus, textbook bibliographies, Worldcat, E-Books Central, JSTOR, ARTbibliographies Modern (ABM), the MFAH and Menil websites, and the MFAH Hirsch Library. You may also look beyond scholarly books and articles published by university presses to sources like exhibition catalogues and art magazines. In your final paper, you may only cite scholarly sources with integrity. No general-interest newspaper or magazine articles; no blogs, museum websites, or online magazines or encyclopedias. There is no deadline for this preliminary research work, but I encourage you to get started on it as soon as possible.
Part 2: 6pp. Research Paper Draft
After you have gathered, read, and taken notes on at least 5 pieces of scholarly writing about your artist/ artwork, you will use all of this research—in combination with the close-looking and writing you already completed for your Formal Analysis Paper—to begin writing an interpretive research paper on your artwork. A 6-page draft of this paper is due. You will mobilize formal analysis, historical information, and the discourse that has developed around the artwork (i.e. previous interpretations of it) to mount your own argument as to the meaning of the work (a reading of its forms, its objectives, its play with meaning) and its place within art history. In other words, this paper is not merely a report or literature review of what has already been said about your artwork. Rather, you are being asked to propose, in conversation with the existing literature on your artist/artwork, your own claim about how and why we should understand this artwork as a significant contribution to the history of modern art. Your claim should be stated clearly in the form of a thesis statement in the first paragraph of your paper. You are encouraged to look to the assigned readings as arguments to be in dialogue with and as models for how to structure your own essay. You are
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