M.A. Curriculum

The M.A. is an intensive one year (two semester) program in which students take 18 credits per semester.  The curriculum requires four specific courses for this program.  They are “Issues in Arts Politics,” “Seminar in Cultural Activism,” “Graduate Colloquium,” and “Graduate Fieldwork.” Students also enroll in at least two electives offered through the Department of Art and Public Policy during the course of the academic year. In addition, students must take up to 16 credits of electives drawn from a University-wide list of linked course offerings, including advanced course work in art and public policy. Enrollment in the program will remain small, so that there is room in the core courses for students from other programs at the University. Program electives are courses from around the University that are already on the books, and the respective departments have already agreed to admit arts politics students (subject to permission of the individual instructor).

Issues in Arts Politics


This seminar aims to give students both a conceptual and practical grounding in the range of issues and approaches by which arts politics can be understood.  The course will be framed by the following considerations: What are the institutional, discursive, and ideological contexts that shape the objects, images, sounds or texts we call “art?” What are the links between cultural spaces-- the museum, the movie-theater, the gallery, the music/dance hall, the bookstore, the fashion runway, the public street, television, cyber space-- and the larger realm of politics? And how do these relationships impact, implicitly or explicitly, the ways we create, curate, or study the arts? How do consumers play an active role in the reception of cultural products?  What is the relation between formally promulgated cultural policy and the tacit knowledge that artists call upon toget their work into the world? What dimensions of the broader cultural terrain are made legible through artistic practice? What are the means through which art intervenes in the political arena? “Art” will be studied as a site of contested representations and visions, embedded in power formations-- themselves shaped by specific historical moments and geographical locations. Given contemporary global technologies, cultural practices will also be studied within the transnational “travel” of ideas and people. Such germane issues as the legal and constitutional dimensions of censorship, the social formation of taste, the consumption of stars, the bio-politics of the body, transnational copyrights law-- will all pass through an intersectional analyses of gender, race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, religion, and nation, incorporating the insights of such areas of inquiry as multiculturalism, feminism, postcolonialism, and queer studies. The first half of the course is explores certain key conceptual issues and the second half examines practical applications. Specific examples are provided through student presentations.



The Colloquium is designed to give the students an opportunity to talk with, and ask questions of, a number of people who have lived and worked as artists, activists, advocates, producers, conveners, etc.  The hope is that their stories will be useful and enlightening and open new questions, and that their challenges will help deepen our exploration. The guests range in terms of what they do, how they do it and define it, where they’re from, and who they are.

Seminar in Cultural Activism


This seminar will focus on developing our work, theory, and art into a realized production.  Each student will start with presenting his or her ideas and goals of creating a public project.  This may take the form of public art, exhibition, performance, narrative but bringing it to a goal of actualizing the work out of the school student world.  But the class is more than just bringing the art into the public light.  We will scrutinize and examine intent and where to bring a production.  Media, reviews, current events, intent, audience, controversy, economics, politics and other issues and challenges that is vital to a successful professional life.  These connections and awareness of the outside world out of school will be a reality check of all the responsibilities of participating in culture.  The class is interested in original and dynamic thought, provoking associative thinking and awareness.  The class is designed to transform and consider challenging your process and opinion.  You are encouraged to bring awareness of different approaches to create new and borrowed strategies in cultural activism.  The class is considered process oriented and the professor is encouraging conceptual principles.  Process is encouraging original thought over guaranteed knowns.



This is an opportunity to identify a specific site or series of places/institutions/practices for study that students admire or would like to learn from. While the Fall colloquium afforded students the opportunity to engage with varieties of arts activists, the Spring seminar is based upon students going out into the world to glean what they can for their own aspirations and ambitions in creating new idioms of arts politics. The seminar itself is a place to reflect on this experience and to develop the means to clearly articulate an interventionist project to oneself and others. Rather than assigned readings, the texts will consist of students' own field notes and presentations. The time together will serve as a kind of charette. The course concludes with a final presentation.