MAT 214 

T-Th 10:20-12:25 p.m.; Winter 2009 


Professor Julie Nicoletta 

GWP 418

253-692-4468; fax: 253-692-5718


Office hours: T&Th 12:30-1:00 p.m., 3:45-4:15 p.m. and by appointment.


For Campus Info in case of snow: 253-383-INFO                                                                                                                       


Course Description:

The art of the United States, Mexico, and Canada is united by common historical events. This course will explore the painting, sculpture, and architecture of these three countries in the context of indigenous cultures, conquest and colonization, revolution, independence, and the search for national identity.


Course Objectives:

Students will gain an understanding of the significance of art in the development of the United States, Mexico, and Canada. Through slide lectures and class discussions, students will acquire skills to visually analyze painting, sculpture, and architecture. Equally important to the class will be the development of research, writing, and critical-thinking skills through numerous assignments.


Required Readings:

Mary Ellen Miller, The Art of Mesoamerica, 4th ed., 2006.

Frances K. Pohl, Framing America: A Social History of American Art, 2nd ed., 2008.

Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing about Art, 9th ed., 2008.

Reserve readings are accessible at the following website: You will need a UW net id to access these readings.



This course is being taught with a corresponding website; the link to this site will be found at:


Grading and Evaluation:

Class Participation and Preparation

 (includes 6 treatments and 1 library

 assignment)                                                    40% 

Formal Analysis Paper                                   25%

Comparison Paper                                          35%


Note: Doing below average work will earn you a D; average work will earn you a C; above average work will earn you a B; only truly exceptional work will earn you an A.


Class Participation and Preparation:

Class participation and preparation will be evaluated by:

1. Regular class attendance.

2. Your interpretation and analysis of the readings as reflected in the amount and quality of discussion.

3. Completion and quality of short assignments.


Attendance is extremely important for a number of reasons. First, we will spend a great deal of time covering material in class that is not in the readings. Second, your insight and participation during discussions are a critical part of the class. We all learn from each other's perspectives; if you miss class, you will miss learning from these insights. Third, the discussions will not duplicate the readings, so you will miss a large portion of the course content. Missing more than three class meetings during the quarter, regardless of the reason, will have a negative effect on your class participation grade.



**Short assignments: Six typed treatments for selected readings and one library assignment (see schedule for due dates; instructions for assignments will be handed out in class; assignments will be graded with a •+, • or •-).

**One 3-page formal analysis paper and one 5-page comparison paper.


Note: Papers will be graded for clarity of composition and grammar as well as content. All assignments must be typed, double-spaced with one-inch margins. All sources must be cited in footnotes or endnotes using The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed., available in the library and summarized in A Short Guide to Writing about Art. Failure to do your own work or to cite the work of others properly will constitute plagiarism and result in a 0.0 for the assignment. In addition, all assignments must be turned in on time. Late assignments will be dropped one-half grade for each day late, except in extreme circumstances. No extensions will be granted except for a written medical excuse presented before the due date of the assignment. Since they are designed to prepare you to discuss the readings in class, treatments will not be accepted late. No assignments will be accepted by email. It is not acceptable to turn in what is substantially the same paper to two different courses.


General Evaluation of Written Work: Writing effectively means writing clearly and concisely and using correct grammar. Excellent papers will meet all of the following criteria:

1. The paper addresses all of the questions and issues posed in the assignment.

2. The paper draws upon relevant readings and class discussions. The paper applies what you have been learning.

3. The paper adds your own insights to the analyses. The quality of your own ideas is important. Show your own independent thinking as much as possible.

4. The paper is convincing. You have the responsibility to justify your arguments. You must back up your points or conclusion. Support your argument by using evidence from the class readings or other sources. Use explicit examples to illustrate what you say. Examples or ideas from primary and secondary sources must be cited using footnotes or endnotes. Do not assume anything on the part of the reader.

5. The paper is well organized. It has an introduction with a thesis (argument), it has a body supporting this thesis, and it ends with a conclusion summarizing the main points.

6. The paper has no spelling and grammatical errors.


Barnet’s A Short Guide to Writing about Art is an excellent guide to describing, analyzing and interpreting art and architecture. You will be responsible for its entire content.


Formal Analysis Paper:

Write a 3-page formal analysis of a work of art. A formal analysis is an analysis of the object the artist produces, that is, an analysis of the work of art, which is made up of such things as line, form, volume, materials, textures, and colors. Do not merely describe the work; show how the form makes meaning. For writing formal analysis papers, consult the Barnet book, especially pages 47-84 and 113-134. The specific assignment for this paper will be handed out in class and posted on the website.


Comparison Paper:

Write a 5-page paper comparing and contrasting two works of art around a common theme, such as colonization, revolution, or independence. The works can be from any of the three countries covered in class and can represent more than one medium (painting, sculpture, architecture). The works can be chosen from books, the web, or from works on display in the Puget Sound region that fall within the scope of this course (check with instructor first). For writing comparative papers, consult the Barnet book, especially pages 135-150. The paper must include a minimum of five scholarly sources (not counting Internet sources) that are properly documented in footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography following the Chicago Manual of Style. Include images of the works of art and refer to them to discuss specific issues that arise in your paper.


Classroom Etiquette:

Food and drink are acceptable as long as you do not disrupt the class or bother your neighbors. Electronic devices (including, but not limited to, cell phones, pagers, blackberries, digital assistants) may not be used. Activities that are non-relevant to the course, such as checking/sending email, playing games, and surfing the web, are considered disruptive activities when class is in session. Please be respectful and attentive when others are speaking in class. Arriving late or leaving early should never happen except in exceptional cases.




If you choose to drop the course, you are responsible for reporting the change to the registrar's office. If you stop coming to class and do not contact the registrar, you will end up receiving a failing grade even if you attended only once or not at all.


If you would like me to mail your final paper/exam to you, bring a self-addressed, stamped 9½ X 12 inch envelope with you to the final exam period. Otherwise, you can pick up your final papers in my office during the next quarter. Remember that you need papers for the portfolio that you must complete before you can graduate, so keeping all your papers across your career at UWT is a good idea.


The Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) offers academic support for students at all levels. For writing, reading, learning strategies and public speaking needs, please make an appointment online at: or drop by KEY 202 during drop-in hours; 10-11 and 3-4 (M-Th). Writing support is also available at our online writing center at More information about our online writing center is available at:

For math, stats and quantitative needs, assistance is available on a drop-in basis in KEY 202. Please check our schedule at: For special needs, please contact Ingrid Horakova at 


The Counseling Center offers short-term, problem-focused counseling to UW Tacoma students who may feel overwhelmed by the responsibilities of college, work, family, and relationships. Counselors are available to help students cope with stresses and personal issues that may interfere with their ability to perform in school. The service is provided confidentially and without additional charge to currently enrolled undergraduate and graduate students. To schedule an appointment, please call 692-4522 or stop by the Student Counseling Center (SCC), temporarily located in Cherry Parkes 206. Additional information can also be found by visiting

DISABILITY SUPPORT SERVICES (Student Health and Wellness - SHAW)


The University of Washington Tacoma is committed to making physical facilities and instructional programs accessible to students with disabilities. Disability Support Services (DSS) functions as the focal point for coordination of services for students with disabilities. In compliance with Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act, any enrolled student at UW Tacoma who has an appropriately documented physical, emotional, or mental disability that "substantially limits one or more major life activities [including walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning and working]," is eligible for services from DSS. If you are wondering if you may be eligible for accommodations on our campus, please contact the DSS reception desk at 692-4522, or visit











Introduction; Looking at Art

Barnet, skim all.



Before Contact: From the Olmecs to Monte Alban

Miller, 8-107.



Before Contact: The Maya and the Aztecs

Miller, 108-247.



Before Contact: Native Americans

Pohl, 10-62.



Imported Artistic Traditions: Spain and France

Ereserve: Peterson.

Treatment on Peterson due.


Imported Artistic Traditions: Great Britain

Pohl, 62-78.

Library assignment due.


Imagery at the Time of Independence I

Pohl, 79-136.

Formal analysis paper due.


Imagery at the Time of Independence II

Ereserve: Burke.

Treatment on Burke due.


Constructing a Usable Past: The European Presence




Defining the Land: The European View I

Pohl, 137-194; Ereserve: Wallach.

Treatment on Wallach due.


Defining the Land: The European View II




Views of Indigenous Cultures

Pohl, 195-250; Ereserve: Nemerov.

Treatment on Nemerov due.


Genre and Narrative Painting

Ereserve: Widdifield.

Treatment on Widdifield due.


Art Academies and World’s Fairs

Pohl, 251-318.



Realism and the Avant-Garde

Pohl, 319-384.


Research Day


No class.


Mexican Muralism

Ereserve: Lucie-Smith, 49-68.

Treatment on Lucie-Smith due.


Recapturing and Reinventing Traditions

Pohl, 385-452.



Abstract Art

Pohl, 453-562.





Comparison paper due.





Ades, Dawn. Art in Latin America: The Modern Era, 1820-1980. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989.**


Berlo, Janet Catherine and Ruth B. Phillips. Native North American Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.**


Burke, Marcus. "The Academy, Neoclassicism, and Independence." In Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Bulfinch Press, 1990.*


Butzer, Karl W. "The Indian Legacy in the American Landscape." In The Making of the American Landscape. New York: Routledge, 1994.


Cancel, Luis R. The Latin American Spirit: Art and Artists in the United States, 1920-1970. New York: H.N. Abrams in association with the Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1988.


Farago, Claire, ed. Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America, 1450-1650. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1995.


Goldman, Shifra. Dimensions of the Americas: Art and Social Change in Latin America and the United States. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994.


Gritton, Joy. "Cross-Cultural Education vs. Modernist Imperialism: The Institute of American Indian Arts." Art Journal 51:3 (Fall 1992): 28-36.


Harper, J. Russell. Painting in Canada: A History. 2nd ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977.**


Katzew, Ilona. Casta Painting: Images of Race in Eighteenth-century Mexico. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004.**


Lucie-Smith, Edward. “Mexican Muralism. In Edward Lucie-Smith. Latin American Art of the 20th Century. 2nd ed. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2004.*


Mellen, Peter. Landmarks of Canadian Art. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1978.**


Metropolitan Museum of Art. Mexico: Splendors of Thirty Centuries. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Bulfinch Press, 1990.**


Miller, Mary Ellen. The Art of Mesoamerica. 4th ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 2006.**


Miller, Mary, and Karl Taube. The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya: An Illustrated Dictionary of MesoAmerican Religion. London: Thames and Hudson, 1993.


Nemerov, Alexander. "Projecting the Future: Film and Race in the Art of Charles Russell." American Art 8:1 (Winter 1994): 70-89.*


Newlands, Anne. Canadian Art: From Its Beginnings to 2000. Willowdale, Ont.: Firefly Books, 2000.**


Peterson, Jeanette Favrot. "The Virgin of Guadalupe: Symbol of Conquest or Liberation?" Art Journal 51:4 (Winter 1992): 39-47.*


Pierce, James Smith. From Abacus to Zeus: a Handbook of Art History. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1998.


Pohl, Frances K. Framing America: A Social History of American Art. 2nd ed. London: Thames and Hudson, 2008.**


Reid, Dennis. A Concise History of Canadian Painting. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1988.**


Smith, Bradley. Mexico: A History in Art. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1968.**


Stein, Roger. "Packaging of the Great Plains." Great Plains Quarterly (Winter 1985): 5-23.


Swinth, Kirsten. Painting Professionals: Women Artists and the Development of Modern American Art, 1870-1930. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.


Truettner, William H. "The Art of History: American Exploration and Discovery Scenes." American Art Journal 14:1 (Winter 1982): 4-31.


Udall, Sharyn Rohlfsen. Carr, O'Keeffe, Kahlo: Places of Their Own. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.


Wallach, Alan. "Wadsworth's Tower: An Episode in the History of American Landscape Vision." American Art 10:3 (Autumn 1996): 8-27.*


Whiteford, Andrew Hunter. "Enriching Daily Life." In American Indian Art: Form and Tradition. New York: Dutton, 1972.


Widdifield, Stacie. "Dispossession, Assimilation and the Image of the Indian in late 19th Century Mexican Painting." Art Journal 49:2 (Summer 1990): 125-132.*


-------. The Embodiment of the National in Late Nineteenth-Century Mexican Painting. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1996.


* Ereserve readings

 **books on reserve at the UWT Library