CRARTS 1001 - What Is This Thing Called Art?

North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2020

Can a toilet be considered a work of art? Who decides what art is? According to many scholars, when Marcel Duchamp exhibited a urinal he purchased from a plumbing warehouse under the title 'Fountain' in a New York art exhibition in 1917, he created one of the most iconic works of art of the twentieth century. Duchamp's action challenged received notions of art, such that now, according to Theodor Adorno, it is 'taken for granted that nothing which concerns art can be taken for granted any more: neither art itself, nor art in relationship to the whole, not even the right of art to exist'. In this course we will examine art as just such a contested category, and consider some of the ways in which the arts have been understood across human history. The course encompasses all forms of art, from the literary and visual to the performing and decorative, and will be organised thematically around a series of questions and topics. We will discuss some definitions of art and we will examine the relationship of art to ideology, the economy and the state, to gender and social class, and we will discuss some of the debates about the social functions of art and the notion of taste. Above all, the course will encourage students to think critically about the very notion of art and to begin to question their own practice as makers of art in contemporary culture.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code CRARTS 1001
    Course What Is This Thing Called Art?
    Coordinating Unit English, Creative Writing, and Film
    Term Semester 2
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange N
    Restrictions Available to BCtveArts students only
    Assessment Participation 10%, Textual analysis 20%, Annotated bibliography 30%, Research essay on an Artwork 40%
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Dr Maggie Tonkin

    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Discuss some of the different ways that the arts have been understood across human cultures.
    2. Demonstrate understanding and be able to discuss some of the debates about how art has been defined and categorized, and about the relationship of art to power, ideology, the economy, race, gender and social class.
    3. Locate and access primary and secondary sources relevant to the course.
    4. Read and interpret criticism and apply it within academic arguments.
    5. Write logical and coherent arguments based on evidence, and engage in critical debate.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Learning materials will be provided online via MyUni.
    Online Learning
    All lectures will be recorded and available via MyUni. Assessement details, announcements and email communications will all be available through MyUni.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Learning Activities Summary

    No information currently available.

  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Modified arrangements have been made to assessments and the details provided here reflect recent updates.
    Assessment Task Weighting
    Online discussion boards 10%
    Presentation (online or in class) 10%
    Textual analysis 20%
    Annotated bibliography 20%
    Research Essay 40%
    Assessment Detail

    No information currently available.


    No information currently available.

    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

  • Student Support
  • Policies & Guidelines
  • Fraud Awareness

    Students are reminded that in order to maintain the academic integrity of all programs and courses, the university has a zero-tolerance approach to students offering money or significant value goods or services to any staff member who is involved in their teaching or assessment. Students offering lecturers or tutors or professional staff anything more than a small token of appreciation is totally unacceptable, in any circumstances. Staff members are obliged to report all such incidents to their supervisor/manager, who will refer them for action under the university's student’s disciplinary procedures.

The University of Adelaide is committed to regular reviews of the courses and programs it offers to students. The University of Adelaide therefore reserves the right to discontinue or vary programs and courses without notice. Please read the important information contained in the disclaimer.