4.651 | Fall 2010 | Undergraduate

Art Since 1940


Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 2 sessions / week, 1.5 hours / session

Course Overview

This subject focuses on the objects, history, context, and critical discussion surrounding art since World War II. Because of the burgeoning increase in art production, the course is necessarily selective. We will trace major developments and movements in art up to the present, primarily from the US; but we will also be looking at art from Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East, as well as art “on the margins” — art that has been overlooked by the mainstream critical press, but may have a broad cultural base in its own community. We will ask what function art serves in its various cultures of origin, and why art has been such a lightning rod for political issues around the world.


To learn this subject, you will be expected to attend class meetings, do a good bit of outside reading and looking, view films during class, write two papers (one as part of a midterm), attend any field trips, participate in an in-class debate, and take a final exam. For help with writing, you are encouraged to take advantage of the writing center. We understand there are different learning styles so please come to office hours or meet with the T.A. to plan a strategy that works for you.


There is no one textbook for this course, but there are extensive readings from several books. Other recommended texts are useful for background or for further reading. All readings will be available on the course Web site or held on reserve in the MIT libraries. A complete list of readings by session can be found in the readings section.


Grades will be determined as follows:

Midterm (including paper) 20%
Final research paper 30%
Final exam 50%

Good attendance and participation in class (particularly in the end of term debate) will bring extra credit to your final grade. You need to do work in each of the graded areas to pass this course, but we hope and anticipate that you’ll be in touch with us if problems develop for you along the way.

Honor Policy

It is expected that all written and exam work submitted for this class will be researched from established sources, but will be thought through and written on your own. We encourage you to get help with editing, but any and all sources you consult (beyond facts of record) need to be properly cited – even if those sources are Wikipedia, your roommate, or a peer reviewer! Work that is quoted without quotation marks, cited without footnotes, or otherwise “borrowed” without clear credit given where credit is due, will be considered plagiarism.

Course Info

As Taught In
Fall 2010
Learning Resource Types
Lecture Notes
Written Assignments