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ARTH 102 - Survey of Art: Renaissance to Modern-Spring 2017-Parkinson


One of the main assignments for this class is a research paper as clearly outlined in your course syllabus and copied below.  This guide will provide suggestions on finding scholarly sources as required for this paper.

Research Paper Requirements - This is copied directly from the syllabus


LENGTH:  6-7 pages, double spaced, 12pt font, with standard margins.


1.  Historical Reasoning

In this paper you will:

  • write an extended piece of prose, 6 to 7 pages in length, based upon scholarly library research, in which you examine in depth one work of art
  • apply art historical methods to the analysis and interpretation of that work
  • demonstrate that you recognize the spatial and temporal contexts of history by analyzing and interpreting the work within the historical context of that period
  • demonstrate an understanding of the visual elements and principles of design by analyzing the style of the work and how it contributes to the meaning
  • use the research library efficiently and effectively by relying upon databases, such as BearCat and Art Index, to locate a minimum of 10 scholarly sources, including 7 scholarly books and 3 scholarly periodical articles
  • identify a viable and interesting research topic
  • construct an argument or thesis to defend
  • synthesize and present a large body of evidence drawn from both visual and textual sources, including both primary and secondary sources 
  • situate the works researched within the historical context of the period
  • prepare a comprehensive bibliography of your sources and cite all material used in your research with endnotes/footnotes and bibliography in the Chicago/Turabian (Kate Turabian) Style.

2.  Communication

In this paper you will:

  • include a logical organizational structure with introduction and conclusion
  • formulate a thesis statement that is clearly articulated in the introduction
  • develop the thesis in the body of the essay through clear argumentation and systematic examination of relevant evidence
  • demonstrate depth and breadth of research materials
  • maintain focus on the research question and make clear the relationships between points
  • include paragraphs organized around clear topic sentences
  • provide adequate transitions to move the narrative from one point to the next
  • synthesize the material and write it in your own words
  • employ a serious and scholarly tone
  • employ a varied and interesting vocabulary
  • use correct spelling, punctuation, grammar, and syntax
  • include a conclusion that restates the thesis, summarizes the main points of your argument, and reflects on the broader implications of the findings.


Choose one work of art from the periods and cultures covered by the course.  It may be a building, a statue, a painting, a photograph, or a print.  Write a paper on that work in which you incorporate historical research and analysis.  There should be little or no biographical material in the paper.  Instead the paper should center on an issue or theme concerning that particular work.  It should include some visual analysis of the work and discussion of how that contributes to the meaning or importance, and it should demonstrate an understanding of historical interpretation.  In other words, while your paper will include facts, you should stress analysis and interpretation.

Read about the work and the artist, beginning with general histories of the period, major monographs, exhibition catalogs, and scholarly journal articles.  Find these using BearCat and WorldCat on the library's web page for "finding books."  Consult the Art Index (on the library web site for the Art Department) for periodical articles.  Do NOT try to find articles using popular databases such as Proquest.

Use primary sources as much as possible.  Cite and analyze the words of the artist and of his contemporaries (friends and critics).  Remember that in art history the work of art (and its drawing studies or architectural models) are primary sources.

Your bibliography should include at least 10 scholarly sources, including 3 scholarly journal articles and some general scholarly works on the history or art of the period as well as specific monographs on your artist.  (A monograph is a scholarly study with footnotes and bibliography written by someone with a Ph.D.)  You may find that you need to consult many more journal articles in order to do a thorough job.  You may use serious reference materials, such as textbooks, encyclopedias, or the Dictionary of Art, but they do not count towards the required number of sources.  Web sites, book reviews, exhibition reviews, newspapers, coffee table books, and popular magazines are not scholarly sources.  If you are not sure of the differences, or if you did not have a thorough study of this in Freshman Speaking, then you need to attend the special sessions, visit the tutor during office hours, or make an appointment with a librarian.  Do not try to use web sites.  Do not try to use your local public library.  Warning:  Many students in the past have failed the paper because they did not heed this advice.

Keep in mind that this is a research paper and demands extensive work in the library.  DO NOT rely on one or two library sources or upon a general encyclopedia or upon popular magazines or the web.  Try to locate books and journal articles that deal specifically and in depth with your topic.  You should not just quote the words of others and you MUST NOT simply copy a coffee-table art book.  You need to digest what you read and then write it in your own words.  Don’t just write a simple chronological listing of events connected to the work.  Use a categorical/topical pattern for organizing your material.  Have a point of view and/or a central issue.  Develop this theme in a logical fashion.

Edit your writing for grammar and spelling errors before printing your paper.  Look especially for sentence fragments, run-on sentences, and missing apostrophes.  I take off points for all of these.  I will not read a paper that is missing all apostrophes.  All papers should be written in correct Standard English and in a serious academic tone.  All papers must be free of spelling and grammatical errors, colloquial speech, and informal tone.  No paper that fails to meet this standard will receive an A grade.  Papers must be thoughtfully written with a varied vocabulary and syntax, smooth sentence-paragraph flow, logical argument, and probing analysis.



Footnotes/endnotes and bibliographic entries should follow the form of the Chicago/Turabian (Kate Turabian) style.  Majors in history should note that Turabian is not the same as Chicago Manual.  Under no circumstances should you USE PARENTHESES IN THE TEXT for your footnotes.  Note that the bibliographic entries should be in alphabetical order.  Use Arabic numerals for footnotes.  Copies of Kate Turabian's manual are in the library reference room and the Writing Center.  Simple versions can be found on the web but be careful to make sure that they are accurate.

All papers must be typed.  The paper should have a title.  The title of art works should be in title caps and italics.  Photocopies of any works discussed in the paper should be included.  These should be labeled and numbered (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, etc.).  Images can be photocopied from books or printed from the web.  Google Images and ArtStor are good sources.  ArtStor is reached by going to the library's page for the Art Department and clicking on "Finding Images."

The grading will be roughly as follow:  1/3 research; 1/3 argument and content; 1/3 writing skills.

The following points are some general ideas to keep in mind in completing your paper:

  • In your opening paragraph do you give the who, what, when of the subject under discussion?
  • Is the theme or thesis or point of view that you intend to discuss in your paper clearly and simply stated at the start of your paper?
  • Have you eliminated material that was not essential?  Quotations that are too lengthy or numerous?  Generalized historical summaries that are too sweeping and broad?
  • Have you made sure that all material is written in your own works?
  • Does your paper focus only on the most important aspects of your topic and not go off on unrelated tangents?
  • Do you have something important or interesting to say? 
  • Have you wrapped up your paper by ending with a crisp, clear summary of the main points and conclusions?
  • Do your paragraphs center on a topic sentence and stick to that topic?
  • Are there transitions between one paragraph and the next?  Between one idea and the next?  In other words, there should be no abrupt changes of topic and definitely no change of topic within a paragraph. 
  • Have you done sufficient research?  Have you incorporated this research into your paper so that you view your chosen topic within the broader context issues in art today?
  • Have you analyzed the artist’s use of the visual elements and design principles?  What visual qualities of the art medium does the artist seem to stress?  How has the artist organized the work to give it unity?  How does the work show the qualities of the artist or period’s style?
  • Have you found any appropriate primary sources?
  • Have you considered any influences of older artists on the style or imagery of your work?
  • Have does this work fit into the artist’s overall career?
  • How does the work reflect the values and concerns of the audience for whom it was created?
  • What historical/social/critical issues may have influenced the context in which this work was created?
  • Are your footnotes/endnotes and bibliography in the correct format?  REMEMBER that anthropological style footnotes (parentheses at the end of sentences) ARE NOT ACCEPTABLE.  Is your bibliography in alphabetical order?
  • Have you proofread your paper in its final stage for misspellings, typographical errors, poor English and overall neatness of presentation?  Remember that the reader of your paper cannot help but believe that a sloppy presentation often indicates sloppy, careless thought and little work on the part of the author.


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