SAMC 420 syllabus

SAMC 420 (3 s.h.) – May 2017
Arts, Media + Culture Travel Study
(part of the London+Paris Travel Study)

Prerequisite:        permission of the instructor
Crosslist:        IDIS 420
Instructor/Contact:    Dr. David Squires (604-308-7273)

Course Description

A three-week interdisciplinary fine arts study trip to London (England) and Paris (France), in which students critically engage culture and the fine arts. Visits to galleries, performances, and cultural sites accompany lectures and readings to encourage students to develop and deepen their biblically informed view of the role of the fine arts. While most course activities take place in London and Paris, several day trips to surrounding locations are included.

Student Learning Outcomes

Through the readings, lectures, discussions of this course, and the rich variety of artistic expression experienced in London and Paris (two of the principal cultural capitals in the world) the student…
+    will be challenged to consider human artistic creations in visual art, theatre and music as originating from and reflective of God’s gift of creativity to us;
+    will come to appreciate the value of the interdisciplinary connections amongst the art forms of music, theatre and visual art as illuminations of aspects of the human condition;
+    will be challenged to think about the roles of cultural and historical contexts in the fostering of human creative expression;
+    will be encouraged to develop an understanding of how a Christian worldview can influence their own aesthetic sensibilities, enabling them to begin to make informed judgments about artistic creations in the fields of visual art, theatre and music.

Course Context + Format

This course is taught as part of the May 2017 Travel Study to London and Paris offered by the School of the Arts, Media + Culture (SAMC). As such the bulk of the student learning experience is on location in those two cities from May 1-21, 2017. Students will have opportunity to visit and engage with a variety of galleries, museums, concerts, and theatre productions, as well as prominent cultural sites. Readings, lectures, and class discussions are designed to prepare the issues which students will then consider and reflect on through the onsite engagement. This will be followed by journaling and a final project, due no later than June 30, 2017.

Readings + Resources

Class discussions and assigned readings will be coordinated with the onsite/field experiences and activities detailed in the travel study itinerary. The following is a non-exhaustive list of readings to be placed on the course website, for download or online reading as assigned at the discretion of the instructor. Other readings may be added at a later date.

Brand, Hillary & Chaplin, Adrienne. Art and Soul: Signposts for Christians in the Arts. London: Piquant Press (2001): 136-148 [ch.15: Art and Interpretation]    [ click here for pdf ]

Eliade, Mircea. Symbolism, the Sacred, and the Arts. New York: Continuum Publishing (1992): 81-92
[ The Sacred and the Modern Artist; A Dialogue With Marc Chagall ]  [ click here for pdf ]

Freeland, Cynthia. But Is It Art? Oxford: Oxford University Press (2002): 90-121 [ch.4: Money, Markets, Museums]  [ click for pdf ]

Kearney, Richard. On Stories. London: Routledge (2002): 125-156, 182-190 [ch.11: Narrative Matters]    [ click here for pdf ]

Kieckhefer, Richard. Theology in Stone. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2004): 3-61 [Introduction and ch. 1: The First Factor: Spatial Dynamics]   [ click here for intro ]    [ click here for ch.1 ]

Kilde, Jeanne Halgren. Sacred Power, Sacred Space. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2008): 3-12 [ch. 1: A Method for Thinking About Power Dynamics in Christian Space]   [ click here for pdf ]

Reich, Steve. Writings on Music. New York: Oxford University Press (2002): 31-32 [Pendulum Music], 34-36 [Music as a Gradual Process], 38-50, 38-50 [The Phase-Shifting Pulse Gate], 81-82 [Music and Performance], 87-90 [Music for 18 Musicians], 100-105 [Tehillim], 158-162 [Questionnaire]   [ click here for pdf ]

Smith, James K. A. Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids: Baker (2009):     17-28 [introduction: Beyond “Perspectives”: Faith and Learning Take Practice]
63-73 [From Worldviews to Social Imaginaries]
80-88 [Thick and Thin Practices: Ritual Forces of Cultural Formation]

[click here for pdf]

Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa. Practices of Looking: an Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press (2001): 10-43 [ch.1: Practices of Looking; Images, Power, and Politics]  [ click here for pdf ]

White, Susan J. The Spirit of Worship: The Liturgical Tradition. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books (1999): 76-99 [ch.4: Locating Ourselves in Time and Space]  [ click here for pdf ]

Course Activities + Requirements

Participation (30%)
Required readings chosen at the instructor’s discretion from those posted on the course website. Informed, critical participation in class discussions is expected.

The onsite/field work of this course involves attending a variety of concerts and theatre productions, and visiting a variety of galleries, museums, and prominent cultural sites in London and Paris. Punctuality is expected. Lateness for an event or activity will result in a deduction of 1 mark, and 2 marks for failure to attend.

Journal (30%)
Keeping a journal throughout the travel study. The journal should include at least 6 substantial entries (minimum 500 words each, dated), in which the student engages, processes and reflects critically on (a) readings and discussions, and (b) experiences and impressions from the concerts, gallery/museum visits, theatre performances, architectural sites, cultural experiences. Some entries may be in response to specific focus questions—TBA. The journal may be submitted in electronic form – (.pdf, Word .doc or .docx; not in an email body) – and is due on or before Monday June 12.

Written Review (10%)
Submit a cultural experience review (c.5-6 pages, typed, double-spaced, plus bibliography of any relevant research before or after the experience/event). Choose a significant cultural experience from the trip itinerary (event, historical site visit, significant gallery visit, performance, etc.) and write a critical and reflective review addressing the following issues: why you attended, why it was culturally important (artistic, historical, and social context), what you learned, other matters which pertain to the stated learning outcomes of this course. (You may choose to do this after the trip is completed, doing further background research and reflection.)  The review is due on or before Monday June 12 by email.

Final Project (30%)
The final project will be based on the lectures, discussions, assigned readings, individual research, and the student’s experiences and reflections on their experience. This substantial project should be a multi-disciplinary/interdisciplinary synthesis and exploration of significant experience(s) during the course.
PROCESS: Gather material throughout the trip that can be used for the project, record in your journals (to keep the memories fresh), collect objects, sounds (use a recording device), photographs, video, etc. as you go through each day. Be alert to what is around you and how you are influenced by the sights, sounds, smells, and tactile elements of the whole experience. In addition, relate relevant concepts and information from assigned readings and lectures where appropriate. The content and presentation needs to extend beyond the literal representation of the whole experience (i.e. this is not a scrap book or a diary). Your goal is to integrate various elements into a cohesive whole.
FORMAT: The final project should be crafted in an original way with a unified and developed theme. Artistic and critical reflection is important. It may take many formats, for example an interdisciplinary piece of art, or even a research paper. Other formats/media can be considered in consultation with the instructor. A 1–2 page proposal is to be submitted by Monday June 12 by email, outlining the goals of the project, and listing relevant bibliographic sources. The completed final project is due Friday June 30 by email or in person on campus, as appropriate to the nature of the project.
The project will be evaluated for (a) integration of the arts, research, and experience; (b) evidence of personal engagement with the ideas and experiences; (c) creative and professional appearance.

Grading System Specific to This Course

The following grading scale differs from the university standard grading system, and will be used for this course:
A+    97-100        B+    83-87        C+    69-73        D+    56-59
A    92-96        B    78-82        C    64-68        D    53-55
A-    88-91        B-    74-77        C-    60-63        D-    50-52    (F:  up to 49)

The following grade definitions are applicable in this course:
A-/A/A+    outstanding, excellent work
B-/B/B+        good, competent work
C-/C/C+    adequate, reasonably satisfactory work
D-/D/D+    minimally acceptable work
F        inadequate, not up to required standard


Late Policy
Work submitted late will receive a penalty of 10% per day to a maximum 40% off. No material will be accepted after June 30, 2017.

Writing Quality
It is expected that your level of writing will be up to university standards. Assignments with significant grammatical problems will be referred to the Writing Centre for rewriting before the assignment will be marked. The Writing Centre is an excellent resource for students at all levels to improve writing skills. See:

Academic Integrity and Avoiding Plagiarism at TWU
One of the core values of Trinity Western University is the integration of academic excellence with high standards of personal, moral, and spiritual integrity. The University considers it a serious offence when an individual attempts to gain unearned academic credit. It is the student’s responsibility to be informed about what constitutes academic dishonesty. For details on this, and on identifying and avoiding plagiarism, see

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