Otis College of Art and Design


Contemporary Non-Western Art: Multiple Perspectives/Approaches/Objectives


Mario A. Caro

e-mail: mariocaro@visualcultures.net

Office Hours: By Appointment


Spring 2005 -Thursday, 1:00pm – 3:00pm


Liberal Arts and Sciences (310) 665-6920




Course description:

We will analyze contemporary art produced outside Western modes of representation. We will cover a range of issues considering positions within the global economy of art: from indigenous to postcolonial. We will also consider various venues--such as the Havana, Johannesburg, and São Paolo biennials--instituted for the exhibition of non-Western art.

Course learning outcomes: 

The critical analysis of the various discourses on non-Western art will require that you develop a variety of skills. The successfully completion of this course will enhance your ability to critically identify and develop your own research topic; improve your competence to synthesize your research by writing a clear thesis; and develop your verbal, written, and visual communication skills for presenting your scholarship.

Required texts:                                                                                                       

The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory. Ed. Rasheed Araeen, Sean Cubitt, and Ziauddin Sardar. London and New York: Continuum, 2002

Course requirements:

Otis Attendance policy:  Attendance at all classes is mandatory and you are responsible for all lecture material.  Three absences within the semester constitute automatic failure.  Students who repeatedly arrive late and or leave early will be counted tardy.  Three tardies equals one absence.  Missing 45 minutes of class is considered being absent.

Late paper/work policy: No late assignment will be accepted. All assignments are to be submitted at the beginning of class on the date due.




There are three types of assignments that will allow me to evaluate your progress in this course: 1) research assignment 2) a term essay supported by your research (5-10 pages) and 3) a class presentations of your research.


Research Assignment



This assignment will allow you to analyze the ways in which texts refer to and depend on each other. Seeing how texts contextualize other texts will assist you in writing your term paper, which will be aided by this research.



On assigned weeks, you will supplement your weekly reading with at least one article of your own choosing. Make a copy of the article for your portfolio and submit a one to two-page typewritten explanation of how your text is connected to the assigned readings.


Dates Due:

This assignment is due the week that your team is scheduled to present.


Term Essay



The writing of this essay is an exercise that will enhance your ability to synthesize researched information into a coherent argument.



You will develop a thesis, a stated position you will take on a particular issue covered in the class, which you will defend using the texts from your research assignment. You will develop your own thesis and are encouraged to pursue a topic that is meaningful to you while also relating to the wide scope of issues covered by the course. The assignment will be divided into two sections: 1) a thesis statement and annotated bibliography and 2) a final draft.


Dates Due:


The thesis statement and annotated bibliography are due on March 3rd. The first draft is due on April 14, and the final draft is due on May 6th.


Team Presentation



The team presentation is meant to improve your ability to collaborate in presenting your work with others. It will require that you develop a format in which to present your work in a way that will complement that of the other team members. It will challenge your ability to communicate, not only within your group but as a group.



The class will be divided into teams of five students. Each team will have an hour to present their projects. The format of your collaboration is completely up to the group, as long as the group is able to represent an aspect of each of its members’ work in an hour-long presentation. Please note that this will require careful preparation that takes into account your time limitation and technical requirements. It is imperative that you rehearse this as a team and that you make advance reservations for the equipment you’ll need.




Your portfolios are meant to neatly organize your assignments in a binder, which is submitted during our final meeting. All written work should by typed and double-spaced.

Otis Grade Scale

A                     4.0

A-                    3.7

B+                   3.3

B                      3.0

B-                    2.7

C+                   2.3

C                     2.0

C-                    1.7

D                     1.0

F                      0.0


Grading Breakdown:


Weekly Participation                 40


Research                      25

Team Presentation        15

Term Essay                  20

Grading Criteria:

Weekly Participation:

This will be graded as satisfactory or unsatisfactory. Satisfactory participation will be awarded if you demonstrate that you have carefully read all the assignments and are prepared to critically engage in a discussion regarding the form and content of the readings.

Research Assignment:

This will also be graded as being either satisfactory or unsatisfactory. To obtain a satisfactory grade you must have selected a supplemental reading that is pertinent to the content of the course and submitted a response paper that explains the relevance.

Team Presentation:

This assignment will be quantitatively evaluated. A successful presentation, which is worth 15 percent of your grace, will be awarded 5 percentage points for each of the following three criteria: 1) individual preparation—the preparation of your individual research project 2) integration—your ability to integrate the thesis of your project with those of your teammates and 3) collaborative presentation—your role in planning the coordination of the group presentation.

Term Paper:

A = Excellent.  Your paper will be turned in on time and :

Have a strong thesis (main point) that is clearly supported by an organized paper.

Provide excellent examples to support your thesis.

Show thorough comprehension of the ideas presented.

Have strong analyses of material and arguments.

Demonstrate your ability to go beyond ideas presented in class and in the reading.

Be written clearly, with virtually no errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation or usage.

Include a bibliography and all necessary citations if required by the assignment.


B = Very Good.  Your paper will be turned in on time and:

Have a good thesis that is supported by a mostly organized paper.

Provide good examples to support your ideas.

Show thorough comprehension of the ideas presented.

Analyze material and arguments.

Be written clearly, with few errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation or usage.

Include a bibliography and all necessary citations  if required by the assignment.


C = Good/Average.  Your paper will:

Have a thesis, perhaps flawed or one that is incompletely supported by the paper.

Show a few flaws in organization.

Provide average examples to support your thesis.

Show minor limitations to comprehension of the ideas presented.

Analyze, with minor errors, material and arguments.

Be written clearly, with some errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation or usage.

Include a bibliography and all necessary citations if required by the assignment.


D = Below average, barely passing.  Your paper will have one or more major problems:

A weak thesis, or one that is incompletely supported by the paper.

Incomplete or weak organization or some lack of coherence. 

Week or poorly used examples.

Show only basic comprehension of the ideas presented.

Analyze, partially or with some errors, material and arguments.

Be compromised by too many errors in grammar, spelling, punctuation or usage.

Lacks a bibliography and complete citations if required by the assignment.


F = Failing.  Your paper will receive an F if it meets ANY of the criteria below:

Does not meet the minimum requirements for a D.

Shows evidence of plagiarism.

Does not fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

Is obviously a first draft

Lacks a bibliography and complete citations if required by the assignment.


Department Plagiarism Statement: Plagiarism occurs when a writer deliberately uses someone else’s language, ideas, or other original (not common knowledge) material without acknowledging the source. Two types of plagiarism are: deliberately submitting someone else’s work (including copying directly from a source without documentation, having someone else write a paper, cutting and pasting from the internet), and carelessly or inadequately citing. A student who plagiarizes at minimum will fail the assignment; beyond that plagiarized papers and exams will result in a failure for the course.  All students who plagiarize will be reported to the Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the violation will be filed in the department.  Repeated or serious violations can result in not only failure for the class but referral to the Student Conduct Committee that has the option of dismissal or suspension from the college).

Proper citations in MLA style and a bibliography must accompany all papers.  You can find this in The College Writer’s Reference.  You can also find citation information through the Library website.










East/West – North/South



Asia: China/Korea/Japan

Alice Yang, “Siting China: On Migration and Displacement in Contemporary Art,” “Why Asia?” and “Beyond Nation and Tradition: Art in Post-Mao China” (photocopies)



Asia: Philippines/Taiwan

Jonathan L. Beller, “Directing the Real: Orapronobis against Philippine Totalitarianism”: 203-211.






Middle East/South Asia

Edward Said, “The Voice of a Palestinian in Exile”: 151-159.

Groups: 4,5,6



Middle East/South Asia

Rustom Bharucha, “The ‘New Asian Museum’ in the Age of Globalization”: 290-300.

Thesis and Bibliography Due

Groups: 1,2,3



Pacific: Australia/New Zealand Aotearoa

Anne-Marie Willis and Tony Fry, “Art as Ethnocide: The Case of Australia”: 123-131.

Groups: 4,5,6



Pacific: Australia/New Zealand Aotearoa

Ian McClean, “Postcolonial Traffic: William Kentridge and Aboriginal Desert Painters” Third Text 17:3 (September 2003), 227-240.

Groups: 1,2,3




Olu Oguibe, “Reverse Appropriation as Nationalism in Modern African Art”: 35-47.

Groups: 4,5,6




Denis Ekpo, “The Failure of Postmodernity: How Africa Misunderstood the West”: 255-266.

Groups: 1,2,3



Central and South America

Gerardo Mosquera, “The Marco Polo Syndrome”: 267-273.

First Draft Due

Groups: 4,5,6



Central and South America

David Craven, “The Latin American Origins of ‘Alternative Modernism,’”: 24-34.

Groups: 1,2,3



Native North America

Jimmie Durham, “Cowboys and . . .”: 101-116.

Groups: 4,5,6



Native North America

Jean Fisher, “Dancing with Words and Speaking with Forked Tongues”: 181-192.

Groups: 1,2,3

Portfolios Due