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VSA2000 Perspectives in Contemporary Art

Semester 1, 2011 On-campus Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Arts
School or Department : School of Creative Arts

Contents on this page


Examiner: Kyle Jenkins
Moderator: Alexis Tacey


Theories of art and aesthetics develop critical understanding of 20th and 21st century concepts which have influenced artists within traditional modes of artistic activity. This course provides a foundation for discussing ideas which have affected 21st Century Visual and Cultural Theory.


The course explores the role of philosophical thought and the significance of its influence on the visual arts. The theories of art and aesthetics from a variety of periods and social and cultural movements will be discussed through the use of imagery from early 20th Century art (as a starting foundation) expanding into related fields within contemporary conceptual and visual concerns within the 21st Century. This course will further explore the role of 20th and 21st thought and the significance of its influence on the visual arts. The course offers active integration of philosophy with contemporary practice and how artists produce hybrid methodologies within various fields of activity such as art, architecture and design within current national and international environments.


On completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate the role of artistic concerns in forming the aesthetics of visual arts;
  2. apply a knowledge of the development of contemporary aesthetics and concepts through a broad survey of historical and current contemporary thought;
  3. demonstrate cultural and professional literacy through investigating underlying aesthetic conventions within works of art in their varying contexts;
  4. demonstrate written and oral communication skills by clearly and logically expressing ideas pertaining to aesthetic and conceptual perspectives as they relate to the visual arts in general and their own work specifically, supported by evidence of research and analysis;
  5. manage and coordinate the research exploration required to successfully fulfil the requirements for assignments 1, 2 and the image in-class test (assignment 3) as well as the weekly research, documentation and discussion generated for answering the tutorial questions (assignment 4). All these will reflect and address the course objectives.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Representation: the Fiction of Realism 10.00
2. Abstraction and Purity 10.00
3. The Transference of the Readymade 10.00
4. Art and Popular Culture 10.00
5. Post-Modern Story Telling 10.00
6. The Body, Nature and Technology 10.00
7. The Politics of Art: Art and Politics 10.00
8. Hybrid Identity and Imperfection 10.00
9. Globalism and the Borderless World 10.00
10. Reinventing the Viewer 10.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • There are no texts or materials required for this course.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Benjamin, a & Osborne, P (eds) 1991, Thinking art: beyond traditional aesthetics, Institute of Contemporary Art, London.
  • Bryson, N, Holly, M A & Moxey, K (eds) 1991, Visual theory: painting and interpretation, Polity Press, Cambridge.
  • Collinson, D 1988, Fifty major philosophers: a reference guide, Routledge, New York, London.
  • Cooper, D 1996, World philosophies: an historical introduction, Blackwell, Oxford, Cambridge, MA.
  • Danto, A C 1986, The philosophical disenfranchisement of art, Columbia University Press, New York.
  • Eagleton, T 1990, The ideology of the aesthetic, Basil Blackwell, Cambridge, MA.
  • Felski, R 1989, Beyond feminist aesthetics: feminist literature and social change, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass.
  • Flew, A (ed) 1999, A dictionary of philosophy, 2nd edn, Gramercy Books, New York.
  • Gandhi, L 1998, Postcolonial theory: a critical introduction, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
  • Gelder, K & Jacobs, M 1998, Uncanny Australia: sacredness and identity in a postcolonial nation, Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.
  • Grosz, E 1989, Sexual subversions: the French feminists, Allen & Unwin, Sydney.
  • Harrison, C & Wood, P (eds) 1993, Art in theory 1900-1990: an anthology of changing ideas, Blackwell, Oxford, Cambridge, MA.
  • Kenny, A (ed) 1994, The Oxford illustrated history of western philosophy, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York.
  • Kolocotroni, V, Goldman, J & Taxidou, O (eds) 1998, Modernism: an anthology of sources and documents, Chicago University Press, Chicago.
  • Mulvey, L 1989, Visual and other pleasures, MacMillan, Bassingstoke, Hampshire.
  • Nalbantoglu, G & Wong Chong, T (eds) 1997, Postcolonial spaces, Princeton Architectural Press, New York.
  • Preziosi, D (ed) 1998, The art of art history: a critical anthology, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York.
  • Ross, S (ed) 1994, Art and its significance: an anthology of aesthetic theory, 3rd edn, State University of New York Press, Albany, New York.
  • Solomon, R & Higgins, K M 1996, A short history of philosophy, Oxford University Press, New York.
  • Tuana, N & Tong, R (eds) 1995, Feminism and philosophy: essential readings in theory, reinterpretation and application, Westview Press, Boulder, Colorado.
  • Warnock, M (ed) 1996, Women philosophers, J M Dent, London.
  • Wartenberg, T (ed) 2002, The nature of art: an anthology, Harcourt College, Fort Worth.
  • West, D 1996, An introduction to continental philosophy, Polity Press, Cambridge, UK.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Lectures 26.00
Private Study 126.00
Tutorials 13.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Objectives assessed Graduate skill Level assessed Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 30 28 Mar 2011 All U3,U4,U7 2,2,2 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 2 100 30 09 May 2011 All U3,U4,U7 2,2,2 (see note 2)
TUTORIAL JOURNAL 100 40 06 Jun 2011 All U3,U4,U7 2,2,2 (see note 3)

  1. Assignment 1 and 2 will be assessed according to the following criteria and each will be awarded a mark out of 30%. Criteria: (a) Coverage and general understanding of the assignment topic. (b) Appropriate discussion of, and reference to the material contained in the chosen topic. (c) Structure and organization of the essay: Fluency of expression; Clarity of thought; Spelling/proofreading; Length; Presentation (d) Critical analysis and evidence of research and its application (e) Supporting evidence (photocopies of artworks etc) correctly documented (this means the text or internet source from where the illustration was taken) (f) Documentation of all applied research. This means general and background information as well as referencing of direct quotes. Referencing (using the Oxford System of Referencing for texts and Internet Sources) must appear throughout the assignment as in text references as well as in a Bibliography or List of References at the conclusion of your assignment. This assignment is aligned with Objectives 1 to 4.
  2. This assignment is aligned with Objectives 1 to 4.
  3. Assessment Details: The tutorial questions and answers should reflect your understanding of the weekly lecturer topics as well as your own personal research related to these. The Journal is to be submitted at the end of the Semester in a format that only includes the question and answers within the answers. Oxford Referencing system needs to be used as well as coloured images. This assignment is aligned with Objectives 1 to 4.

Graduate qualities and skills

Elements of the following USQ Graduate Skills are associated with the sucessful completion of this course.
Academic, professional and digital literacy (U3)Intermediate (Level 2)
Written and oral communication (U4)Intermediate (Level 2)
Cultural literacy (U7)Intermediate (Level 2)

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    It is the student's responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials and research work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration. For this course, normal class attendance consists of one 2 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial per week.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To successfully complete an individual assessment item, a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks or a grade of at least C-. This statement must be read in conjunction with Statement 4 below.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    If students submit assignments after the due date without extenuating circumstances and without prior approval, then a penalty of a maximum of 5% of the assigned mark may apply for each working day late, up to a maximum of 10 working days, at which time a mark of zero can be recorded for that assignment.

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade, a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no exam for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Given the details under (6) above, there are no deferred exams for this course. However, if any deferred/makeup work is granted, it would have to be submitted by a date set by the examiner.

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Assessment notes

  1. (a) The due date for an assignment is the date by which a student must lodge the assignment at the USQ. (b) All Faculty of Arts assignments must be lodged in the Faculty Assessment Centre on the Ground Floor of Q Block no later than 12 noon on the due date. (c) In the event that a due date for an assignment falls on a local public holiday in their area, such as a Show holiday, the due date for the assignment will be the next day. Students are to note on the assignment cover the date of the public holiday for the examiner's convenience. (d). Students must retain a copy of each item submitted for assessment. This must be despatched to USQ within 24 hours if requested by the Examiner. (e) In accordance with University's Assignment Extension Policy (Regulation 5.6.1), the examiner of a course may grant an extension of the due date of an assignment in extenuating circumstances such as documented ill-health. (f) Students who have undertaken all of the required assessments in the course but who have failed to meet some of the specified objectives of the course within the normally prescribed time may be awarded the temporary grade: IM (Incomplete-Makeup). An IM grade will only be awarded when, in the opinion of the examiner, a student will be able to achieve the remaining objectives of the course after a period of non-directed personal study. (g) Students who, for medical, family/personal, or employment-related reasons, are unable to complete an assignment or sit for an examination at the scheduled time, may apply to defer an assessment in the course. Such a request must be accompanied by appropriate supporting documentation. One of the following temporary grades may be awarded: IDS (Incomplete - Deferred Examination; IDM (Incomplete Deferred Make-up); IDB (Incomplete - Both Deferred Examination and Deferred Make-up).

Other requirements

  1. All assignments and research must be fully and correctly documented. You must use Oxford Referencing system as well as coloured images.