Faculty of Arts


Ways of Seeing Contemporary Art

Please note: this is archived course information from 2018 for ARTHIST 204.


This is a newly designed course that aims to be provocative, sometimes controversial and at all times exploratory and transformative. It is a single semester course and a direct and methodical way to acquire knowledge about contemporary art’s current themes, concepts, critical theories, buzzwords, techniques and processes that engage the imagination of artists, curators, writers and cultural theorists worldwide.

The course asks us how we can create new ways of thinking by engaging with contemporary artworks that spark unexpected ideas and encounters. From this broad knowledge, students are encouraged to dig deeper into particular aspects and themes.

Some of the artists we study

Wangechi Mutu, Olafur Eliasson, Lisa Reihana, Dane Mitchell, Simon Denny, Luke Willis Thompson, Francis Uprichard, Billy Apple, Hito Steyerl, Bernadette Corporation, Amalia Ulman, Frances Stark, Thomas Hirschhorn, L.N. Tallur, Cindy Sherman, Hans Haacke, Gerhard Richter, Yayoi Kusama, Marina Abramovic, Christian Boltanski, Mona Hatoum, Martin Creed, Tracey Emin, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Damien Hirst.

Learning outcomes

At the end of this course students will have acquired the skills to discuss contemporary art meaningfully and to express critical and creative responses to works of art.

Students will learn how to structure arguments and compose thoughts in spoken and written form that add strength and clarity to communication and presentation.

Students will gain a deeper understanding of how art is an essential medium for the exploration of ideas, feelings, social and cultural identities and political perspectives.

Students will gain confidence in exercising independent and critical thought and will learn how to acquire the most important "C-skills" valued by employers, academics, designers, artists, psychologists and theorists: communication, creativity, curiosity, collaboration and, perhaps most important: caring about others and the physical and cultural ecologies that we share.

View the course syllabus

Availability 2018

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Dr Gregory Minissale

Recommended Reading

Claire Bishop, Participation, London : Whitechapel ; Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, 2006.

Amelia Groom, Time. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, MA : The MIT Press, 2013.

Antony Hudek, The Object. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2014.

Stephen Johnson, The Everyday. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2008.

Clare Doherty, Situation. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2009.

Petra Lange-Berndt, Materiality. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2016.

Charles Merewether, The Archive. London : Whitechapel Gallery ; Cambridge, Massachusetts : The MIT Press, 2007.

Gregory Minissale, The Psychology of Contemporary Art. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

Robertson and McDaniel, Themes of Contemporary Art (Oxford University Press: 2010)


Coursework + exam


ARTHIST 204: 15.0 points


15 points at Stage I in Art History and 30 points passed



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