VISC 1001: Global Visual and Material Culture: Beginnings to 1800
Research Essay (20%)
Due at the start of class on Tuesday, June 14, 12:50pm
The objective of this assignment is to construct and complete a research paper on a specific work
of art or design of your choosing that relates to the overarching theme of STYLE. You are to
select an object or artifact in response to one of the four questions below, each of which
highlights a particular facet of how objects have displayed unique styles throughout history. You
are to analyze your object by researching its art-historical context. The finished paper will
provide a rich, well-researched, and thoughtful discussion of your object.
How does your selected object display the style of the art-historical period or culture with
which it is associated?
How is the style of your selected object influenced by its medium (the material or the materials
from which it is made)?
How does your selected object display the personal style of the artist or designer who made it?
OR Can personal style and period style be separated? (You do not have to answer both
How does the subject matter OR function of your selected object relate to its period style?
1. Choose an object in the Royal Ontario Museum, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gardiner
Museum of Ceramic Art, Textile Museum of Canada, Bata Shoe Museum or the newly-
opened Aga Khan Museum in relation to one of the above questions. Your chosen work of
must fit the chronological scope of this course (that is, you must select an object from any art-
historical period or cultural context manufactured prior to the year 1800 CE inclusive). The
object can be part of the museum’s permanent collection or part of a temporary exhibition,
but the object MUST BE ON DISPLAY—you must study the work of art in person and not
simply online. The object cannot be a reproduction or model (n.b. the reproduction of the
Palette of Narmer in the Royal Ontario Museum is not permissible.) Keep your admission
ticket to submit with your paper.
2. Research the art-historical context of your chosen object. Students must use a
minimum of three academic sources (i.e. peer-reviewed scholarly journal articles, books, or
exhibition catalogues). You may consult your textbook, but for the purpose of this essay, it
will not count as one of your academic sources). Academic research databases subscribed to
by OCAD University such as JSTOR, and others listed on the Dorothy H. Hoover library
website, may be used freely to find scholarly articles, such as the Grove Dictionary of Art
available through Oxford Art Online. No other websites are allowed. Wikipedia is not an
appropriate academic source. Furthermore, you may only consult the museum website to
verify the artist’s name, title, medium, dimensions, date and/or place of production of your
object, and to find an image of the object to include with your paper.
3. Write a research essay that responds to this question by situating your chosen work within
its art-historical context. Information about the object’s specific historical context (its
immediate social/cultural/political/religious context, etc.) may also be helpful. However, please
remember that your work of art or artifact is the focus of your essay. It is highly possible that
you will not find scholarship addressing the exact piece you have selected—that’s fine. The
piece you have chosen is likely representative of/related to a category of objects, or part of an
artist’s body of work, on which you can find scholarship.
1) Your essay must be 5-6 pages (c. 1250-1500 words). It should be double-spaced, with
1” margins, using a 12-pt font in Times New Roman on 8 1⁄2 x 11” pages. It should be page
numbered. Please include your TA’s name as well as your name and student number. Papers
that do not adhere to the above format will not be accepted. You must staple your admission
ticket to your paper.
2) Include a clear and assertive thesis statement in the introductory paragraph of your essay.
Your thesis should establish a clear position or argument and refer explicitly to your selected
object while reflecting the question you selected.
3) You must appropriately reference your research sources. Include a bibliography or works
cited AS WELL AS appropriate citations of your secondary sources using either the Chicago
Manual of Style (i.e. footnotes) or MLA (in-text parenthetical references). Plagiarism is the
act of taking someone else’s ideas, opinions, writings etc. and representing them as one’s one.
You plagiarize whenever you borrow another scholar’s ideas without paraphrasing or quoting
directly from a source and without giving credit through proper citation or acknowledgment. For
more information, please see: https://www.ocadu.ca/students/academic-integrity.htm and
4) Include a reproduction or rendering for your object, along with complete information
(artist, title, date, medium etc.). Please ask for permission before taking a photograph of any
object on display. Students are also free to print an image of the object from the museum
website, to submit a postcard of it from the museum gift shop, or to photocopy it from a
museum guide or catalogue. The image of your work of art or artifact is placed on its own
page, with a caption, after the body of your essay and before your bibliography (if using the
Chicago Manual of Style) or works cited (if using MLA).
The largest part of your mark will be calculated according to the content of your essay, but the
organization of your discussion and the style of your writing will also be considered.
Good luck, and be sure to pick an object that fascinates you!
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