AHIS 1302 Paper Proposal & Annotated Bibliography
Due: Oct 14
Mark: 20%
Length: Approximately 1000 words (4 pages)
This assignment consists of two parts:
1) The first two pages (roughly 500 words) should address your topic and the work(s) of art. You
should pick only one or two artworks to discuss. You are required to provide citations in
footnotes in this section. There is no bibliography required for this part of the assignment. If you
choose artworks not found in the text, please append a digital image of the artwork to your
assignment. Do not worry about providing citations for these images.
This part should include the following (indicate each under a subheading):
• a brief description of the work of art (formal analysis and socio-historical contexts)
• questions you are posing/addressing
• a concise thesis (1 to 2 sentences), supported by a couple of paragraphs in which you indicate
how you intend to develop your proposed position
2) An annotated bibliography consisting of 3 sources (roughly 450 words): 150 words per
An annotated bibliography consists of a list of citations that refer to monographs, edited
anthologies, articles—followed by a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph, i.e. the
annotation. An annotation is a critical and explanatory commentary on a source, informing the
reader of the relevance, accuracy, and quality of the sources cited. THE TEXT IS NOT A
First, conduct your library research, seeking materials that contain useful information and ideas
on your topic. Briefly examine and review the actual items. Then choose those works that
provide a variety of perspectives on your topic.
Cite the book, article, or document using the appropriate style. Please observe the citation and
bibliographic standards of the humanities style used in the Chicago Manual of Style (16th ed.),
as described in the print edition and online at the following address:
Provide a concise summary of the central theme of the book, book chapter, or journal article.
You also should try to critically evaluate the author’s argument. Do you agree or disagree with
their central thesis? Additionally, make sure to make clear why you have chosen the sources you
have. Why are they relevant to your thesis? Will they be used to support your argument or do

they provide a counter-argument? If relevant, you may wish to contrast or compare your various
sources in your annotation, to point out differing scholarly positions on a particular issue.
You should avoid using older sources, unless you are purposely examining past modes of
scholarship, such as art history produced before feminist writing on art. Also, use only quality
sources, such as books from academic presses or peer-reviewed journals.
If you are referring to a chapter in an edited anthology, you are required to provide an analysis
only of the chapter, not the entire book.
Summary of questions to consider:
-How you will be using the source?
-What does the author discuss?
-What does the author argue?
-How are these sources useful to your paper?
-Do you agree with the source? How does it support or contradict your argument?
-Is the author agreeing or complementing another source in your bibliography?
**Remember you are not actually writing a paper, but proposing a topic, choosing a
work(s) of art, discussing potential themes and questions, crafting a thesis, and providing
an annotated bibliography. Later in the term, you will develop your term paper from the
foundation you have built with this annotated bibliography.
Papers should be submitted online to Brightspace, double-spaced, paper format, in 12 point font

Each of following topics corresponds by number to a chapter in your text. These topics are
suggestions only. Also, do not attempt to answer all of the questions under any particular subject
heading. Try to narrow your focus – better to say more about less. It is fine to write on something
else, as long as you consult with me before doing so.
1. Abstract Expressionism and the Image of Freedom
Examine the debate over the legacy of Abstract Expression, in light of controversies over its
suspected use as tool of propaganda during the Cold War by the American government. How
reliable are the arguments for the involvement of government in the production of this art form?
Can we reassert the value of Abstract Expressionism even if its production and circulation were
covertly funded by government agencies? In a larger sense, can art ever be free of political or
economic intervention?

2. Return of the Repressed: Neo-Avant-Garde in Postwar Europe and
Consider the sharp critical disagreement about the reuse of the formal methods of the historical
avant-garde—abstraction, collage, photomontage, constructions, monochrome painting,
performance, and more—by artists in Europe and the United States after World War II. Do you
think that the neo-avant-garde sacrificed its critical power by its reuse of the tactics of the earlier
historical avant-garde? Or did such repetitions offer up new aesthetic and critical avenues in
postwar society? Investigate this debate through the work of one or two artists.
3. Camp, Theatricality, and The Queering of Modern Art
Evaluate Andy Warhol’s or Larry Rivers’s use of camp—the performance of a theatrical, ironic,
and effeminate aesthetic—as a tactic to open a critical space apart from the masculinist
expressive traditions of Abstract Expressionism. Does camp still possess the same critical force
today, or has it been eroded by popular culture? Make sure to draw upon and reference queer
theory in your discussion of this topic.
4. Mining the Artworld: The Moving Targets of Institutional Critique
Critically investigate the shifting practice of institutional critique evident in the production of art
from the 1960s to the present day. Artists engaging in institutional critique take the art
establishment as their subject of investigation, exposing veiled ideologies informing the
operation of galleries, museums, publications and private collections. Institutional critique has, at
different times, focused on issues of class, gender, race, sexuality, and more. Examine works by
one of the following artists—Hans Haacke, Andrea Fraser, Fred Wilson, James Luna (or?)—and
appraise their critical intervention.
5. Postconceptual Photography and the Challenge to the Illusion of
In the 1970s, photographers Allan Sekula and Martha Rosler begin to dispute the function of
photography as a truth telling medium. Since its invention in the 19th century, photography
appeared to most to convey information objectively, without artifice. Rosler and Sekula’s work
disputes this assumption—that photography is neutral and transparent—making clear that the
medium must be deconstructed to understand and disrupt its peculiar authority. Consider the
work of either photographer, and assess their critical contribution, in light of a world that is now,
more than ever, saturated by the photograph.

6. Transgressing Thresholds of Pain and Propriety: The Performance Art of
Marina Abramović
Performance art emerged early in the second decade of the 20th century, incorporating visual art,
spoken work, music, dance, costume, and more. In the 1970s, such multi-media experiments
turned to the body of the artist and mortifications of the flesh, shifting again in the 1980s to
address political issues, such as the AIDS epidemic and war. Examine the performance work of
Marina Abramović, and consider the social and political implications of her often radical
performance practice.
7. The Aesthetics of Absence: Memory, Loss, and the Housing of Social
Art historian Charles Merewether has asked “how does art allude to something absent or
something that cannot be said?” Investigate this question in light of the art production of one of
the following artists—Rachel Whiteread, Doris Salcedo, or Jochen Gerz (or?). The work of these
artists addresses not only traumatic history but also this problem of representing the so-called
unrepresentable. Evaluate how successful their artistic strategies are in expressing something
meaningful about mass social trauma. Does this sort of art intervene in social practices of
commemoration in a meaningful way? Why or why not?
8. Globalization and the Art of Exploitation
Globalization involves not only the freer flow of capital and goods, the movement of people and
ideas, but also more pervasive exploitation of labour in new markets. Globalization also radically
expanded exhibition cultures across a diverse network of cities around the world, bringing
attention to artists of many nationalities. Examine the work of one of the following artists—
Santiago Sierra, Ai Wei Wei, Steve McQueen, or Teresa Margolles (or?)—and critically assess
their transgressive efforts to confront what they deem to oppressive features of globalized
capital. Can these sorts of interventions bring real social change, or are they more a feature of
globalized culture?
9. Antiracist Art and the Arc of the Moral Universe
Art continues to be deployed as a means to combat the marginalization of and violence against
racialized peoples. Choose one artist and investigate how their work seeks to confront racist
ideologies, which have remained intact despite the retreat of their various forebears: colonialism,
Apartheid, slavery, Jim Crow, or…? Specifically, what tactics do they use, and how do they
employ their chosen media to achieve their ends? More generally, to what extent do you think
that art—often a valuable commodity shown and sold in elite spaces—can meaningfully speak to
the realities of racialized violence? Additionally, does it matter that these art objects do not have
a wide audience?


10. Challenges to the Binary of Margins and Centres: Postcoloniality
Postcolonial studies examine how the social and material conditions of colonization have not
only formed hegemonic, hybrid cultures but also have altered the subjectivities of those people

who live within such cultural systems. Examine the retorts of artists made “marginal” by the self-
positioning of Western societies and cultures as “the centre” of the civilized world. Consider the

relations between margin and center through the critical tactics of “marginalized” cultural
producers, who have employed themes of (to name a few) cultural authenticity, Indigeniety,
borders, hybridity, and multiculturalism.
11. Contemporary Art and the Interrogation of Gender
Discuss and critically evaluate the work of either a female or male artist who investigates gender
and its normative imprint on human subjectivity. To what extent do you think that such work can
bring positive and lasting change? Women artists could include Kate Millett, Cindy Sherman,
Judy Chicago, Carrie Mae Weems, Lorna Simpson, Martha Rosler, Mary Kelly, Faith Ringgold,
or…?. Male artists could include Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Robert
Mapplethorpe, or…?