This course will introduce aspects of the social sciences that provide important contexts for understanding the relationship of art, culture, the art maker and society, and that may be stimulating and interesting to the artist engaged in generating imagery meaningful to themselves and a wider audience.

Course Content and Structure:

Taking examples from the work of contemporary artists as well as artists from the past, each week will focus on a different intersection of art, public life, and critical responses to a variety of visual media. It will include an examination of the ways in which contemporary art, and art generally, shapes the public sphere, influences political debate, and motivates public opinion. The course will consider how contemporary art and the techniques of its display engage public interest and balance or provoke the views and interests of different members of multi-cultural societies. We will consider the role played by museums in facilitating dialogues between different sectors of the community and examine the role of art in articulating social, environmental and cultural critique. Focussing on the balance between censorship and freedom of expression, we will consider the ways in which the contemporary art world is created, tolerated, and controlled.

Learning Objectives:

At completion of the course, students will be able to: *Interpret major socio-political themes in contemporary art; *Evaluate the form and function of artworks in a range of media; *Discuss recent theoretical approaches to the analysis of contemporary art; *Locate trends in contemporary art in relation to art historical precedents; *Analyse the relationship between art and the public sphere.