Subject - CSG (Cultural Studies)
Courses: Diploma of Graphic Design (CUV50311)
Class 01 - Introduction to the unit / research skills exercise
This document URL: http://vuitarts.net.au/lisa/2015/CSG/class01/2015_CSV_class01.html
Lecture / Activities
Welcome to the Cultural Studies subject.
The usual format of this subject will be:
We will begin with an introduction to the subject, classes and assessment tasks, and look at what you need to know for writing and research skills in this subject.
Today you will be working on your first assessment task: Task 1 - Essay (Research & Writing Skills).
See the Unit Guide for all assessment tasks:
This first assessment task is asking you to write a a short text, so you do not need to present it as a formal essay, rather look at it as a review - in the manner of a creative review you might find in a design or fine arts journal. Despite this, you still need to adhere to academic standards for referencing and copyright issues.
Many of you may be unsure how to put your thoughts, critical analysis and research into a coherent format. You will need to express your ideas in a concise and clear manner. The content presented in today's lecture will assist you in achieving a well written piece, which you will have time to work on, ask your teacher questions and get help in the workshop session.
We will also examine Assessment Task 2 (Participation & Online Discussion) to be found in the Student Guide linked above
What is Research?
Research may be defined as the systematic investigation into and study of materials and sources in order to establish facts and reach new conclusions.
Creative practitioners (Artists/Designers) need to understand their place in a continuum of creative practice to enable them to work from a position of knowledge - to become better practitioners.
This subject is designed to present you with a range of very interesting and engaging creative work as a starting point for your own journey in researching and developing your own creative practice. We learn about art and design history because it shows us not only the works that were created, but also how and why these works were created in a socio-political context, at a certain place and time. Context is a crucial aspect in understanding a work of design or art, and often different meanings, different readings of a work can be made based upon the viewer's own knowledge and experience.
What is Creative Research?
"Creative Research" is a term that is being used a lot at the moment in academic circles. This includes the research we do to learn about other creative practitioners, and the creative practice itself - the works we create may form part of the research cycle. Methodologies employed in undertaking creative research are often described as Practice-Led or Practice-Based:
How do we know if we are doing research?
How do we "research" and what is research and what isn't? Not all of what we do as artists and designers is research - making an artwork is not necessarily research, but some aspects of it might be - so how can we tell the difference?
This essentially means that we need to be able to transfer the knowledge produced through our research somehow - this might manifest itself in different ways, such as the development of a technique that can be passed on, or the documentation of a performance work that demonstrates the development of a concept and its realisation, or the keeping of a visual journal that can show how a series of designs or artworks were created. Or in this case, through a written review of the creative works that are the focus of the research.
Consider: what methods are you engaged in that might qualify as "practice-based research"? Or what parts of this subject can we consider to be research? Discuss...
How does this relate to the Learning Elements in the Unit of Competency for this subject?
This Subject / Unit has the following four learning elements:
The assessment tasks we have created focus on these learning elements and you will find yourself working through these elements in each project. We want you to use the work we do in Cultural Studies to ultimately develop your own practice from the research. To do this you need to be able to communicate (present/discuss/write) about what you have done, how you have done it and why it's relevant/important/necessary.
In your own time, look through all four assessment tasks in the Unit Guide. You will see in the assessment rubric how each task addresses the elements listed above and the detailed performance criteria for each element.
What is critical analysis?
What kinds of questions might we ask about the works viewed at the NGV last week? Discuss...
How do we think critically?
When we think critically we are being active; we are not passively accepting everything we see, read and hear, but questioning, evaluating, making judgements, finding connections and categorising. It means being open to other points of view and not being blinded by our own biases.
Critical thinking is useful for most activities associated with tertiary study, such as forming judgements in lectures and tutorials, and when reading, writing essays and assignments, making decisions and developing arguments, and developing projects.
Critical thinking involves various processes in different disciplines. In the arts, it can include asking questions, identifying problems and solutions, relating theory to practice, stating an argument and supporting it with evidence, making comparisons and evaluating.
Some useful references for critical thinking:
How to write your review in the correct format
As the text for this task will be short (~1500 words), you don't need to structure your text formally as you would with a longer essay-style piece. You don't need a lengthy introduction and conclusion that repeat the body of your writing. Rather, you may plan a path through your review - it should be coherent andflow well from paragraph to paragraph. Think about writing an outline where each paragraph addresses a different part of the review.
Judy Radul's interpretation of how one might structure a review can be found at this URL:
Notes on Writing Exhibition Reviews: http://www.sfu.ca/~jaradul/reviews.html
You might want to include for example (not necessarily in this order):
To help you think about how you might interpret the works you have selected for this assessment ask, I have referenced these principals as a starting point that you might wish to consider - you don't have to use them or agree with them all.
Barrett's Principles of Interpretation
If we have time, we may watch part of Ways of Seeing presented by John Berger - a documentary made in 1972. It may seem a bit outdated (you may also find parts of it humorous) and he does focus on traditional western art, but he does make some bold statements which are still valid today when thinking critically about art.
Referencing and Copyright
Writing at university involves researching the ideas of other people, which you can combine with your own ideas and conclusions.
In all of your written work at VU, you are expected to maintain certain standards relating to how you give credit to the work of others, respecting intellectual property and copy rights.
Learning to acknowledge other people’s work through in-text citing and referencing will help differentiate between their ideas and your own.
This is central to the idea of academic honesty in Western academic institutions.
The VU Library site has some very useful information that you will need to refer to in writing your review (see the link above). Despit the review not taking a formal essay format, we still expect you to use in-text citing and referencing for any content that is not your own intellectual property.
As we are asking you to research and find text relating to the artworks you have selected for this assessment task, you may want to quote short excerpts of others' texts in your text. This demonstrates that you have taken the opinions of "experts in the field" into account when forming your own analysis.
The next section on VU Harvard Style will show you how to quote texts from various sources, and how to reference content that is not yours and create a bibliography at the end of your review. You may have noted that I have references in these classnotes and have placds a bibliography at the end of the web page. You are expected to do likewise.
We recommend Harvard Style as it allows for differentiation between in-text citation and endnotes/footnotes which you may want to add with your own additional commentary. We will look at the differences...
VU Harvard Style Guide: http://guides.library.vu.edu.au/harvard
You can download the PDF for the Harvard Style Guide and keep it handy for all written tasks.
Here are some examples that you can refer to for Assessment Task 1:
National Gallery of Victoria (NGV) website: http://www.ngv.vic.gov.au/
Barrett, Terry 1994, Criticizing Art: Understanding the Contemporary. Mountain View, California: Mayfield Publishing Company.
Borgdorff, Henk 2010, “The Production of Knowledge in Artistic Research” in The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts, Routledge
Browne, M & Keeley, S 2001, Asking the right questions: a guide to critical thinking, 6th edn, Prentice-Hall, Upper Saddle River, N.J.
Candy, Linda 2006, Practice Based Research: A Guide, Creativity & Cognition Studios, http://www.creativityandcognition.com University of Technology, Sydney, CCS Report: 2006-V1.0 November, viewed 22/11/2010 <http://www.creativityandcognition.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/PBR-Guide-1.1-2006.pdf >
Critical Thinking URLs:
Deakin University 2015, Critical Analysis, Deaking University, <http://www.deakin.edu.au/current-students/study-support/study-skills/handouts/critical-analysis.php>
Fortnum, Rebecca 2009, "On Not Knowing; how artists think – Symposium Introduction", Symposium: On not knowing: how artists think, Kettle's Yard, Cambridge, <http://www.kettlesyard.co.uk/exhibitions/mi/papers/onn_fortnum.pdf >
Smith, Hazel & Dean, Roger T. (Editors) 2010, Practice-led Research, Research-led Practice in the Creative Arts, Edinburgh University Press
Windschuttle, K & Elliot, E 1999, Writing, researching, communicating: communication skills for the information age, 3rd edn, McGraw-Hill, Sydney.