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Picking a Topic 1303

Suggestions on how to pick a topic for your art history research paper.

Matt Backer

on 30 November 2016

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Transcript of Picking a Topic 1303

Picking a topic for your Research Paper
Historical Context
This presentation will provide some guidelines for selecting an interesting topic for your research paper due at the end of the semester.

Before settling on a topic, you should consider the three main ingredients that will help you to develop a thesis...
I recommend beginning with either the theme or the artwork.
Themes are general features of human life that are larger than any one culture. A good theme will allow you to make your topic relevant to the reader. Examples of good themes are:
The lives of women vs. men
The design of religious structures
Standards of beauty
ARTS 1303 Backer
A good artwork or building to pick is one that you can relate to personally through a theme AND one that has good research available.
Check the Library's Research Databases and the Library Catalog to make sure that you will be able to find research on your topic.
See the Research Resources Module at the course website for links to sites with art that would work well for a topic. The Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History is especially good for finding a topic.
Pay special attention to the style of the object - does the appearance of the object provide insight into the theme or the historical period?
NOTE: Your artwork MUST be from one of the art historical periods covered in this class. In general, that means that it must have been created before the year 1400. Keep in mind that we are going to cover other types of art later in the semester, like Indian, Chinese, African, etc. There are many good topics in these categories.
Consider the following questions:
1. How was the object used?
2. Does the object tell a story? If so, why was this story important?
3. Is the object religious? Political?
4. What iconography is included in the object? Are there symbols with important meanings?
5. Did the object have an artistic impact, an influence on later artworks?
By exploring Historical Context through your research, you will begin to see the object from a historical perspective. Ideally, you will learn to see the object in the same way that the people who originally made and used the object saw it.
Depending on your topic, you may want to ask different questions about your object, but these should give you an idea of how you will begin to build a Historical Context and gain historical perspective as a result.
After you have selected an
and a
and started to develop the
Historical Context
, you should begin to think about a

should explain the connection between the three ingredients: theme, artwork, and historical context.
The Theme
should be larger than one culture, and it will help you to make the topic relevant to your reader.
The Artwork
What's important about how the object looks?
Historical Context
should include details that provide greater insight into the lives of historical people
Once you have identified a Research Topic, you can begin work on your Prezi Presentation about your topic. See the guide at D2L.
Enemies or foreigners
Or many other possibilities
Full transcript