SAMC 112 syllabus

Interdisciplinary History of Western Arts – Fall 2015 (3 s.h.)

Prerequisite: none


Dr. David Squires (coordinator), ex3469;    Mus Bldg, office hrs MW 11-noon (usually), or by appt

Dr. Lloyd Arnett, ex2058;   RNT East 2nd floor, office hrs MW 11-noon; Th 1-2

Laurel Gasque, ex3275;    RNT 246, office hrs by appt

Course Format:          

lectures: MW 9:00-9:50

Dgroups: M 10-10:50 (Arnett, Gasque, Squires); M 4-4:50 (Squires)

Course Description:

This foundational interdisciplinary arts course introduces students to key historical developments in artistic practice and concepts, following a chronological trajectory from ancient times to present. Through critical examination of historical concepts in the arts, students develop their ability to meaningfully experience, interpret, and articulate different approaches to the arts. Students are encouraged to think critically, charitably, and divergently as they examine a multiplicity of artistic practices and concepts. The format of the course includes lectures, readings, discussion, and individual and collaborative assignments. The course is delivered by an interdisciplinary teaching team. Students attend weekly lectures, and participate in one of four discussion groups (Dgroups).


Course Learning Outcomes:

Students will:

  • Learn to apply critical tools in the interdisciplinary study of the arts in historical context;
  • Engage with the arts and ideas charitably, critically, and reflectively;
  • Be challenged to consider human artistic creations in the arts as originating from and reflective of God’s gift of creativity to us, and consider how this may affect aesthetic sensibilities;
  • Come to appreciate the value of the interdisciplinary connections amongst the arts as attempts to illuminate aspects of the human condition;
  • Be challenged to think about the roles of cultural and historical contexts in the fostering of human creative expression;
  • Learn to become self-directed learners, thinkers and writers who balance intuition and imagination with scholarly method.


Texts + Resources:

Required text:

Sporre, Dennis J. The Creative Impulse: An Introduction to the Arts, Eighth Edition. Pearson Prentice Hall, 2009.

Other resources: (material posted here – visit regularly)

mycourses website ( isn’t used.

Course Activities + Requirements:

Attendance and Participation Expectations:

  • Attendance and participation is required to get the most out of the course.
  • Anyone who misses more than 25% of the classes may be barred from the final exam.

Discussion Group (Dgroup): 15%

  • In addition to the regular lectures, each student is in a weekly discussion group (Dgroup).
  • Dgroup classes provide opportunity for further discussion of material from the text and the lectures, as guided by the instructors. Questions related to text readings will be provided to stimulate discussion. Additionally, students will write “one-minute papers” at the beginning of each Dgroup, relating to that day’s lecture (and the previous week, if questions persist). This material will be used to guide discussion of things which might be hindering or challenging the student’s understanding, and what might be helpful.
  • Students will be graded for preparedness (readings as listed in the syllabus), and active participation in discussion as led by the instructor.

Performance Review: 10%

  • Attend and review one of the selected events/performances (Music, Theatre, Visual Art) listed on the course website. [will not include on-campus, student events]
  • You must choose an art form outside your chosen major.
  • Write an 800-1000 word review on the event using the guidelines on the course site.
  • Due two weeks after you attend the event, or Dec. 8, whichever comes first.

Verge Conference Review: 5%

  • Attend one or more sessions of the Verge conference (Oct. 1-2 on campus) and submit a 250 word review of one session: the presenters’ topics, ideas, and group discussion.

Midterm Exam: 15%

  • In class Nov. 2 — based upon lectures up to that point.

Opera Broadcast and Research Paper: 25%

This research paper involves attendance at the live broadcast of the Metropolitan Opera production of Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello , Sat. Oct. 17, 9:55am at the Colossus Cinema, Langley.

  • Prepare in advance by becoming familiar with the plot of the opera, as well as some of the history of the opera and the play on which it is based.
  • After viewing the production, develop an interdisciplinary topic on some aspects of this opera, for example its history and reception, or opera as a multi-arts medium, or the production as we viewed it, or the relationship of the opera to Shakespeare etc
  • Proposals are due by Wed. Oct. 28 – worth 5% of the total 20%
    • This is a summary of your intentions for your paper, including an overview and your specific argument and area of exploration. It should be 1–2 pages long and should include at least a 6 source bibliography, including some primary sources.
    • If you are unsure about your topic, speak to one of the instructors early, before the proposal is due.
  • Minimum 1500-word paper with bibliography and citations.
  • Paper is due the final day of classes (Dec. 8). No late papers accepted.
  • In the event a student has an unavoidable conflict with Oct.17, one of the other Met Opera broadcasts will be substituted (Oct.31: Tannhauser), and due dates will be adjusted.

Final Exam: 30%

  • Based upon lectures and critical integration of interdisciplinary knowledge.
  • More details provided in class closer to the end of the semester.

Grade Definitions:

The standard university grading scale will be used. It can be found in the online academic calendar ( ) and is reproduced here:

Letter Grade Percentage Grade Point
A+ 90–100 4.3
A 85–89 4.0
A- 80–84 3.7
B+ 77–79 3.3
B 73–76 3.0
B- 70–72 2.7
C+ 67–69 2.3
C 63–66 2.0
C- 60–62 1.7
D+ 57–59 1.3
D 53–56 1.0
D- 50–52 0.7
F Below 50 0

Standard University Grade Definitions

A:  Outstanding, excellent work
B:  Good, competent work
C:  Adequate, reasonably satisfactory work
D:  Minimally acceptable work
F:  Inadequate work

Course Outline (subject to change as necessary)

Introduction to a History of the Arts

Reading: Preface + Introduction

Sept 9: Introductions / Conceptions of history (DS)

Sept 14: Evaluating the arts through contextual and formal criticism (LA + LG)

Sept 14 Dgroup: introductions and opening discussion


Ancient Greece and Rome

Reading: Chapters 2, 3 + 4

Sept 16: Ideas of Tragedy (LA)

Sept 21: Greek and Roman Sculpture and Architecture (LG)


The Arts in Biblical Times (incl Early Church)

Reading: Chapters 5 + 6

Sept 23: Music from the Old Testament to Gregorian Chant (DS)

Sept 28: Early Christian Art (LG)


Middle Ages

Reading: Chapters 7 + 8

Sept 30: Byzantine Art and Iconoclasm (LG) / Medieval Music (DS)

Oct 5: Medieval Theatre (LA)


[ Special Event: Oct 1-2 Verge conference: Arts + Environment ]


Renaissance + Baroque

Reading: Chapters 9, 10, 11 + 12

Oct 7: Art and Architecture of the Renaissance (LG)

Oct 12: Thanksgiving (no class or Dgroup: eat turkey)

Oct 14: Theatre of the Renaissance (LA)

Oct 19: Renaissance to Baroque music (DS)

Oct 21: Baroque Visual Art (LG)


Opera Broadcast: Oct 17 Metropolitan Opera broadcast (Colossus Theatre)



Reading: Chapter 13

Oct 26: Concepts of Enlightenment / Music of Enlightenment (DS)

Oct 28: Theatre of Enlightenment (LA) / Neo-Classicism in Art (LG)

Oct 28: paper proposal due


Midterm Exam: Nov 2 (no Dgroups)



Reading: Chapter 14

Nov 4: Romanticism as Idea and in the Arts (LA, LG)

Nov 9: Romantic Music (DS)

Nov 10: Reading Break (no class)

Nov 16: Wagnerian Opera (LA)


The Last 130 years

Reading: Chapters 15, 16 + 17

Nov 18: Beyond Realism (LG)

Nov 23: Beyond Tonality (DS)

Nov 25: From the Theatre to the Screen (LA)

Nov 30: Postmodernism in Art (LG)

Dec 2: Theatre Today (LA)

Dec 7: The Rise of Popular Music (DS)

Dec 7 Dgroup: exam review

Dec 8 is the last day to submit research paper and performance reviews. Nothing

accepted after this date.



Attendance and Deadlines

  • To get the most out of this class, attendance and participation is crucial. You must attend at least 75% of the classes or you may be barred from writing the final exam.
  • Assignments are accepted late at a penalty of 10% per day to a maximum 40% off, unless the assignment has been taken up in class. In this case, the assignment will receive a grade of zero.
  • The final day to hand in outstanding assignments is the final day of classes (Dec.8). If there are still assignments not completed by this time they will not be accepted.

Writing quality

It is expected that your level of writing is 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:

Responsible Use of Electronic Devices

If you bring or use electronic devices (cell phones, tablets, laptops) in class, please do so responsibly. Responsible use of electronic devices includes:

  • Setting up devices and turning off all sounds prior to the start of class.
  • Using devices for class related work. Checking social networks not only distracts you, but also those around you.
  • Using devices as a way to increase engagement rather than detract from engagement. In some situations (discussion, viewing images, etc) this may involve turning devices off.

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 go to the University Homepage > Academics > Academic Calendar > Academic Information > Academic Policies > Academic Dishonesty and Plagiarism

Learning what constitutes plagiarism and avoiding it is the student’s responsibility. In addition, an excellent resource describing plagiarism and how to avoid it has been prepared by TWU Librarian William Badke: Plagiarism.swf (14 minute flash tutorial)  (8 minute flash tutorial)

Class cancellations

In the event of extreme weather conditions or other emergency situations, go to:

University Homepage > Campus Notification (in the page footer) > Class cancellation policy.

Students with a Disability

Students with a disability who need assistance are encouraged to contact the Equity of Access Office upon admission to TWU to discuss their specific needs. All disabilities must be recently documented by an appropriately certified professional and include the educational impact of the disability along with recommended accommodations. Within the first two weeks of the semester, students must meet with their professors to agree on accommodations appropriate to each class. Students should follow the steps detailed by the Equity of Access Office outlined in the Student Life section of the University Calendar.

Fragrance-Free Policy

Trinity Western University is moving towards a scent-free environment in response to numerous faculty, staff and students whose health is at risk when exposed to chemical-based or scented products.


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