Course Blogs and Sites

Marjorie Och

I use blogs in my classes for a variety of purposes. For example, in the blog for my survey of Western art courses (ARTH 114 and 115), I post articles that I think will be of particular interest to students about current exhibitions, conservation, art and war, recent discoveries, as well as reinterpretations of works of art. The articles are from the Washington Post, the New York Times, and other sources. I want students to develop an eye for seeing art in the news and for appreciating the complexities of art in our lives. Students receive credit toward their participation grade (not extra credit) for commenting on any of the articles, and I urge them to look at earlier articles to comment on. Articles for ARTH 114 and 115: Introduction to Western Art I and II, are posted here.

I have also used blogs in upper-level art history classes for posting student work and for supporting student conversation and collaboration. Sometimes these blogs have been successful, but not always. My experience has been that students need to be invested in a larger project for a course blog to work for them. As a result, I have connected a course blog with a larger collaborative project, an online exhibition, in my seminars on Venice. In these cases, blogs are an integral part of coursework and preparation for the exhibition. My seminar on Bernini (spring 2013) also included  an online exhibition, but no blog; rather, students decided that the exhibition should have a life after the seminar and they worked to developed social media within the website. The online exhibition for ARTH 470s: Bernini, 2013.

Additional course websites:

The course blog for ARTH 303: Methods of Art History.

The course blog for ARTH 460: Women and Western Art.

The course blog for ARTH 470z: Venice.

The online exhibition for ARTH 470z: Venice, 2008.

The online exhibition for ARTH 470z: Venice, 2011.

The online exhibition for ARTH 470s: Bernini, 2013.

In spring 2014, the Venice seminar explored Omeka for our online work.

In the spring 2016 Venice seminar, I tried a new assignment. Instead of having students post short essays for an online exhibition, I asked them to create video recordings about their project. My goal was to provide an opportunity for them to develop a new set of skills.

The kind of recording students produced in the 2016 Venice seminar is similar to podcasts and other online materials museums now make available on their websites. I revised this assignment for ARTH 317: Laboratory in Museum Studies, in the spring of 2017 when this class co-curated the exhibition Margaret Sutton: Life + Work at UMW’s Phyllis Ridderhof Martin Gallery. Their recordings are here.

I have two study abroad programs. One to Venice and Croatia that I co-direct with Liane Houghtalin, a colleague in Classics, and another to London. The Venice and Croatia program focuses on “empire,” and we consider both the ancient Roman and the early modern Venetian empires on site. The blog for this program is Venice and Croatia.

The spring break study abroad program to London is a one-credit course that examines contemporary issues and practices in London’s museums, including the history of collections, current collecting policies, methods of interpretation, exhibition spaces, audiences and communities, institutional purpose, disaster planning, and building a future. We also consider the collections themselves, and student presentations bring together both an object and its museum-home. A blog connected to that program as well as to my Museum Studies classes is The Art Museum.

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