Course Syllabus

Maori King - Matutaera Tawhiao          Nambiquara gathering                        Tlingit armor

Matutaera Tawhiao Second Maori King.jpg   nambiquara.jpg  0000_6_4386_200507272.jpg


Indigenous Body Adornment

Art 309 – Spring 2017

Katie Bunn-Marcuse, PhD

Meeting Times:  Mon., Wed., Fri 1:30-2:50

Location:  Art 003



Course Overview - for an overview of the whole quarter and all class session, see ah309 Course Overview in "Pages" on the left hand navigation column.

Course Description:

This class focuses on the practice of body adornment in many Indigenous cultures.  We will look at a variety of practices including tattooing and piercing as well as the use of jewelry and clothing.  These will be discussed in their capacity to convey information on individual, clan, or national identity. We will also consider the role of adornments in both ceremonial and quotidian contexts ranging from rites of passage to warfare or present-day protests or fashion. Finally, we will discuss the issue of cultural property regarding such expressions and their use or misuse by the dominant society.

The class material will be based primarily on Native American (the Northwest Coast and Plains regions) and Polynesian examples. Students are expected to research other geographical or cultural regions for their papers.

Course Goals & Learning Objectives

This course has multiple goals.  The first is to expose students to the art and culture of Indigenous peoples and to particular forms of expression through the decoration of the human body.  In addition to gaining an understanding of this particular kind of artwork, we will explore the methodologies of art history:  learning to look at and describe a work of art both verbally and in writing.  Students will experience how working with classmates can enhance comprehension and raise the level of engagement with course materials.

Learning Objectives:  Students will learn to recognize cultural styles and to analyze artworks on a formal and contextual level.  Writing assignments will help to develop the skills of written description and argument. We will practice critical reading skills and comparative techniques and apply them to the objects or practices under examination.


Grading: The course will be graded according to the following formula:
20% Preparation & Participation (Online homework - 10%; class participation & group work - 10%) Note *each student gets 2 free passes to skip turning in a pre-reading response this quarter.
45% Reflective Essays/Exams (2 @ 20% and 25%)
15% Personal Adornment Presentation (5%) and Essay (10%)
20% Research Paper

Class meetings:  Each week we will look at a different culture area and focus on particular themes within each area.  The assigned readings will be discussed each time we meet.  Class meetings will combine lectures and discussion with small group and individual work.  Coming to class prepared is essential to participating in the discussions.

Writing Assignments: Writing assignments will require close reading and analysis of class material. The writing in this course will focus on the central concepts presented in the class and in assigned readings.  Writing will be a key part of engaging with course material through reading responses and other short on-line and in-class writing work. Critical thinking and reflection will be part of the weekly expectation in this class.  Your dedication to documenting your critical thinking in class preparation materials will strongly influence your success on exams and other written material.

Required Text:  1) Course packet available at EZ Copy ‘n Print at 4336 University Way NE with additional material on-line as pdfs via the class website. Packets will be ready on Monday, March 27th.

Images:  Selected images from the class discussion and lecture will be available online to aid in your writing assignments as you review class material. 

Office Hours:  Dr. Bunn-Marcuse will be available for questions and concerns on Wednesdays, 3-4:30pm in Art 202.  Individual appointments in person or via Skype can be scheduled via email at any time. 

Expectations for Success:  All students can succeed in this class.  There are a number of resources and strategies that will aid in your mastery of this subject including the OUGL writing center for feedback on drafts of written assignments (including the material you will post on-line).  Your most helpful resources are your classmates and teammates.  Use Canvas to aid your individual study time by posting questions to your colleagues or form a study group to review information and augment your understanding. 

Attendance:  This success of this class depends on the active participation of all members.  Your attendance and preparation is required. The online homework submission will help you to prepare for class.  By attending, you agree to participate in discussions of reading material and additional material presented in class.  An atmosphere of collegial support respecting diversity and differences of opinion is essential and participation is encouraged and expected from all members of the class. You will be expected to comment on this material and the insights you have generated in your assigned writings and also to model the types of analyses presented in class.

Group Work:  We will often use small group work in this class to further our inquiry into the topics at hand.  Groups may occasionally be the expert on certain topics and will be responsible for certain aspects of the reading, researching them further, and presenting that information to the class. 

  • Groups will pose discussion questions to the class as a whole.  Bring your ideas from your online responses to class with you for a rich discussion question based on the day’s reading assignment.  

Benefits of Group work:

The benefits of working with groups are well-documented by research on teaching and learning.  These include better retention of course material, improved ability to synthesize (not just memorize) information and sort through complex concepts.  If you are not comfortable working on in small groups, this may not be the course for you.

Late work:  Assignments will be graded down (B to B-) for each day past the due date.



Course Summary:

Date Details Due