Art class writing paper


5-6 double-spaced pages of text, word count at least 1750. 12 point font, times new roman, images and bibliography should be in excess of the 5-6 pages.


The purpose of the assignment is to train your observation, research, and writing skills. You will learn how to look at and describe a work of art, paying attention to its different formal features. You will learn how to distinguish peer-reviewed sources, and how to properly cite them in your work through footnotes and a bibliography. You will hone your writing skills, which will serve you in all your humanities and social sciences courses at the UO, and in your professional lives once you finish your degree.


You will write a paper on ONE work of Euro-Western art (European or North American) completed between 1600 and 1980 of your choosing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, accessible through the Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, (Links to an external site.). Your chosen work should NOT be one that is illustrated in the textbook or discussed in class, but it should be associated with one of the art movements covered in class. The Heilbrunn Timeline allows you to narrow your search according to time period and geographic region. If you would like to write your paper on a work of art that is not in the Met’s collection, you are welcome to, but please get your GE’s approval before you begin to make sure the work falls within the parameters of the class.

Your essay will consist of two primary components, (1) a visual analysis and (2) a research dimension.

In the first half of your essay (2-3 pages), you should describe and analyze the formal and technical aspects of your chosen work. You should spend at least one hour looking at your work and writing about what you see. The formal analysis section of your paper is due Tuesday October 20, 11:59pm.

In the second half of your essay (2-3 pages) you should situate your work within its historical and critical context, drawing on the lectures and readings, and comparing your work to one or two other works from the same movement or a related movement discussed in class. You must use at least three scholarly sources in your essay, which may include readings from class, excluding the textbook. Internet sources must be from peer-reviewed journals, i.e. articles from academic databases, such as JSTOR, etc. If you are working remotely, you will use mainly online journal articles or encyclopedias (e.g. Oxford Art Online), which are available through the UO Library Catalogue. Some books are also available online in the UO Library system. If you will be on campus or in Eugene and can visit the library, you are also encouraged to use print books that are published by university presses, or academic presses such as Ashgate, Zone Books, Reaktion, Routledge, etc. You will go over how to find appropriate sources in Week 5 Section. The complete essay (both visual analysis and research components) is due Tuesday December 1 at 11:59pm.

Essay Grading Rubric:

The following three categories are equally weighted

Organization: Your essay should have an introduction and conclusion. The body of your essay should have a formal analysis and research component. You should have a complete bibliography of your sources and proper footnotes (see guide in expanded rubric on canvas, which will be covered in Week 5 Section), appendix of images, and you should proofread and spellcheck your work. Your essay should be 5-6 pages, double spaced in 12 pt times new roman font, without footnotes, bibliography, or images.

Visual Analysis: You should provide a complete formal description of your work of art in the body of your essay. Pay attention to line, color, form, and iconography.

Research: You must consult at least 3 peer-reviewed sources and are also encouraged to use primary sources to develop your discussion of the work in its historical context. Your sources may include assigned readings from class, excluding the textbook. Internet sources are not acceptable unless they are peer-reviewed journals, i.e. articles from JSTOR, etc. that you source from the UO library catalogue. Books should be published by university presses, or academic presses such as Ashgate, Zone Books, Reaktion, Routledge, etc.

You must cite all ideas that are not your own, even if you do not directly quote a source. My preference is that you use Chicago style for your references. If you are not familiar with this style, please consult: to an external site.Links to an external site.

Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and all accounts of plagiarism will be reported to the Office of Student Conduct and Community Standards. If in doubt, always cite it. To ascertain that you are not plagiarizing in your written work, please consult: to an external site.Links to an external site.

Late Policy for Essay: The penalty for late research papers is a 5% deduction per day, unless you have a medical or personal emergency, or unforeseeable circumstances related to COVID-19 that prevent you from submitting your work on time.

Basic Guide to Footnoting

General points:

  • The number for a footnote should go outside the final punctuation mark following the relevant sentence.
  • Every footnote should be given its own number in sequence. Do not repeat numbers to refer to a previously cited reference. There is another way to indicate that (see below).
  • Footnotes go in the footnote section of the page (not the footer). Most word processors will arrange them automatically if you click “insert footnote.” Do not try to enter them manually in the footer. It messes up the page layout.
  • Footnotes should be single-spaced. Do not add indentations or extra lines between notes.

When to insert a footnote:

  • When you paraphrase an idea.
  • When you reference someone else’s scholarly argument.
  • When you quote directly from a source.
  • When you want to suggest further reading and additional references to your reader. For this you would preface your note with “See”.
  • When you have something additional to say that doesn’t relate directly to your argument; namely, a side point that might be relevant to some readers but isn’t essential to your topic.
  • When you want to provide the longer context of a quote. This could be giving the original language, the full sentence if you have excerpted a small piece, or even the full document if it is appropriate.

How to do a footnote that cites a specific scholarly source:

  • Book: First and Last Name of Author/s, Book Title in Italics: Including Long Winded Subtitle, First and Last Name of translator followed by , trans. if it’s a translation (City of Publication: Name of Publishing Company, Date of Publication), pages.

e.g. Jean-Claude Schmitt, The Holy Greyhound: Guinefort, Healer of Children since the Thirteenth Century, Martin Thom, trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 5–35.

  • Article in a Journal: First and Last Name of Author/s, “Article Title in Quotation Marks: Including Long Winded Subtitle,” Journal Title in Italics, volume: issue (Year of Publication), pages.

e.g. Giles Constable, “Medieval Latin Metaphors,” Viator 38:2 (2007), 1–20.

  • Article in an Edited Book: First and Last Name of Author/s, Book Title in Italics: Including Long Winded Subtitle, First and Last Name of translator followed by , trans. if it’s a translation (City of Publication: Name of Publishing Company, Date of Publication), pages.

e.g. Sebastián Salvadó, “Templar Liturgy and Devotion in the Crown of Aragon,” On the Margins of Crusading: The Military Orders, the Papacy and the Christian World, Helen Nicholson, ed. (Surrey: Ashgate, 2011), 31–44.

If you want to cite multiple things:

  • You just include all the references in the same footnote, separating each reference with a semi-colon and then end the whole long thing with a period.

e.g. See Stephen White, Custom, Kinship, and Gifts to Saints: The laudatio parentum in Western France, 1050–1150(Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 1988); Barbara Rosenwein, To Be the Neighbor of Saint Peter: The Social Meaning of Cluny’s Property, 909–1049 (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1989); Constance B. Bouchard, Holy Entrepreneurs: Cistercians, Knights, and Economic Exchange in Twelfth-Century Burgundy (Ithaca: Cornell, Univ. Press, 1991); Sharon Farmer, Communities of Saint Martin: Legend and Ritual in Medieval Tours (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1991).

Notes on quotes:

  • In general, you should quote primary sources directly. Secondary sources should not be quoted directly but instead synthesized into your own words. Both should still be cited, though.
  • Quote directly from a secondary source only when your writing is critiquing the particular language, i.e. argument, of the author.
  • Paraphrasing another author’s points does not require quotation marks but does require citation.
  • You may summarize points from primary source documents without quotation marks but they should still be cited.
  • There is almost no reason to ever quote from secondary sources such as a survey, textbook, encyclopedia, dictionary, etc. These sources summarize the secondary sources and do not present a scholarly argument.
  • When a quote is more than three lines, make it into a block quote. Block quotes do not have quotation marks, they are indented on both left and right, and they are single-spaced, even if the paper is double-spaced.
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