Classics-Art 329 Reading Assignments


There will be 3 quizzes, one midterm and one final examination that you MUST take. There will be 6 quizzes in all and we will take your 3 best scores. If you do well on your other quizzes we'll count each successful one as 2 points of extra credit on your final exam score for the class.

The two textbooks include: 

David Soren, Art, Film and Popular Culture (Kendall-Hill, 2018). This is the key textbook for the class also available as an e-book directly from the publisher.

David Soren, Vera-Ellen: The Magic and the Mystery- (you may used any of the 3 editions from Midnight Marquee Press). This book documents the tragic story of the great female dancer, how she drove herself to become a superwoman and how she was destroyed by Hollywood Studios, inadvertent bad parenting, unsympathetic men and a lack of medical knowledge about her illnesses. One day of the course each year is devoted to Vera in memory of her forgotten achievements and artistry.This is available at the bookstores here or at a discount at

You are encouraged to read these entire books since they will be used as the basis for the reading quizzes.

For the quizzes make sure you have 5 facts about each term, if possible, including a good definition and a date if a date is relevant. You will be asked to know some specified terms and concepts from the Vera-Ellen book and the art book for the course will have specific critical thinking questions for you to wrestle with. Learning dates as closely as possible is also an important aspect of the course.


1- First do the assigned reading in the books

2- Focus on the critical thinking questions for each chapter at the bottom of this page and go over what you've read with an eye to answering these questions.

3- Focus also on your lecture notes because the lectures and the readings are designed to work together.

4- For the quiz you will get two questions based on those critical thinking questions you have been preparing.

5- What is a good answer? A good answer usually gives a definition of what is being asked, gives a relevant date of what is being discussed, and then gives 3 good facts.

6- Quiz example: Suppose I ask you to tell me about the importance of the Parthenon. You respond that the Parthenon is the most important temple in Athens, Greece and it was built between 447 and 432 B.C. It is in the Doric order and featured sculpture by Phidias of the goddess Athena and the term Parthenon refers to Athena Parthenos or Athena the Maiden Goddess. That would be a terrific full example and you'd get full credit for it. If you leave out a date it is one point off the answer.

7- 2nd example. Tell me about the Baroque Period. You can say that it was a movement of the 17th century centered especially in Italy and France and which featured powerful and dynamic figures and sharp lighting contrast known as tenebrism. A major artist of the movement was Caravagiio (or Artemisia Gentilleschi or even Rembrandt who used more subtle contrasts of light and shade). It was part of the Counter-Reformation or the revival in popularity of the Catholic chuch during this period.  Now that would be a very full and good answer like we are looking for.

8- Make sure you do all the reading associated with the date for each quiz. It is important to do well on your quizzes and not just your midterm and final.


Reading Assignment for the first quiz on January 17th, Soren main textbook introduction and Chapter 1. Note the critical thinking questions you should deal with are placed at the BOTTOM of THIS page.

Reading Assignment for January 29th quiz. Soren, Popular Art Textbook, Chapters 2 through 4.

Reading Assignment for the February 12th quiz: Soren, Art Textbook, chapters 5, 6, 7 and 8.
REMEMBER THAT YOUR MIDTERM IS TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26TH. Reading Assignment for the midterm includes Soren, Art Textbook, Chapters 9 and 10. See also the midterm study guide on this website under exam study guides.

The midterm will be drawn from concepts emphasized primarily in class and which, for the most part, are also found in your reading assignments. Focus on material covered in the review session in class and on the preceptors' review session as well. Remember that the "in class" review session is the one to base your studying on. The preceptor session is their opinion and may contain errors. It is only intended to help your studying but could have a few inaccuracies.

Reading Assignment for Quiz on March 19th will include Soren, Art Textbook, Chapters 11 and 12

Reading Assignment for Quiz on March 28th:  Read Soren, Art Textbook, Chapters 13, 14, 15. Read also Soren, Vera-Ellen Book, pages 1 to 168 noting Vera-Ellen, OCD and anorexia nervosa, Vera's early career Samuel Goldwyn, MGM, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, how famous was Vera-Ellen, The Belle of New York, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, White Christmas, Bing Crosby, the Rothschilds.

Reading Assignment for Final Quiz on April 16th: Read Soren, Art Textbook, Chapters 16, 17, 18 and Vera-Ellen book pages 168-221 (noting the later life of Vera-Ellen).

Reading Assignment which will also be included for the Final Examination is Soren, Art Textbook, Chapter 19 up to end of book.

Remember that the final examination is April 30th in class at 9:30 a.m.

Oversleeping is no excuse to miss it. You must show up unless you have what we consider a valid and acceptable excuse. If you are ill you MUST have a medical statement to get a makeup final. You must report failure to attend the final within 1 day of the examination if you are requesting a makeup for a valid reason. Exams must be turned in when called for at the end of the examination and cannot be turned in after your instructor leaves class.


Critical Thinking Questions for Art, Movies & Popular Culture

You are responsible for the answers to these questions for your quizzes.

Chapter One:

What is meant by the Classical Quarry? Why is it significant?

How did Athens evolve its democratic form of government? What were the Athenian assemblies of people called?

What happened of significance in the Greek Archaic Period and when was it? What happened of significance in the Classical Period and when was it?

Discuss the evolution of Greek sculpture and its advance towards realism and yet also idealism. What are a kouros and a kore?

Explain contrapposto and why it was such an advance over Archaic Period sculpture.

Why did Athens rise to prominence so quickly in Greece in the early fifth century B.C.

What was the significance of the Parthenon? Can you draw a rough façade of a Greek Doric temple? How many parts of it can you label correctly?

Can you discuss the stylistic differences among Doric, Ionic and Corinthian temples? How does one style differ from another?

What happened to Athens after the glory days of the Classical Period? What role did the Romans play?

How did the Christian basilica develop and what were the influences on it? What did the Romans contribute to the development of architecture?

Nero was said to employ Baroque theatricality in his own imperial Roman architecture. Describe what he did with his architects Severus and Celer.

Discuss some other dynamic Roman architectural innovations you read about.

What are the basic similarities and differences between the Romanesque and Gothic styles and when did each occur?


Chapter Two:

When was the Renaissance in Italy and why was it important and unique? Name some of its initiators and their accomplishments.

How did Renaissance painting exhibit ideas that were both rooted in the past and yet innovative and new? Give examples.

What were some of the major principles of Renaissance art and architecture?

What was unique about Baroque, Mannerist, and Rococo art and architecture? Describe some of the key characteristics that distinguishes each movement from the other.

Rembrandt and Caravaggio were both Baroque artists and yet each offered a different approach to painting. How did they compare and contrast with each other in their approach to art?

The ancient Romans had a big influence on later art. What sort of things were taken from the Romans and applied in later art movements and in civic thought in general?


Chapter Three

Discuss why Jean-Jacques Rousseau is a key figure for the Romantic Period.

How does the Gothic novel fit into the Romantic period? What were some of its characteristics?

What did some of the early Gothic novels have in common?

What were some of the vogues in art and architecture that were popular in the Romantic Period in Europe and America.

Discuss some of the major authors of Gothic novels and their works.

What was the significance of Pompeii for the Neo-Classical movement during the Romantic Period?

How did Robert Adam and his family influence the Romantic movement?

Johann Winckelmann was a transformative figure in the Neo-

Classical movement. Discuss some of his contributions.

Among the early archaeologists working at Pompeii, Giuseppe Fiorelli stands out for his ground-breaking discovery. What was it?

Give an example of Romantic eclecticism that did not entirely involve the Neo-Classical or the Gothic styles and explain what it did combine.

How did France participate in the Romantic age?

How did the Paris Opera serve as a symbol of its age?

What was Napoleon III’s vision for a new Paris? Did it work out?

What is meant by Academic painting and give an example of an artist known for his work in this style.

What is the link between Budweiser beer and the art of the Romantic Period?


Chapter 4

Was there really a King Arthur and when did he become celebrated as a major figure in British “history”?

If you had to create a fictional Pre-Raphaelite work what sorts of concepts would you include in it?

How did the Pre-Raphaelites view women and depict them?

Alfred Lord Tennyson was the poet laureate of England. How would you describe the poetry that he wrote?

Name a Pre-Raphaelite painter and describe his style in detail.

Discuss the music of Loreena McKennitt and her connection with the Pre-Raphaelite movement.

The hit song The Mummer’s Dance was an unlikely candidate to be a top ten rock hit. Most people didn’t know what it was really about. Do you?

Why does a Whirling Dervish whirl? What are some of the ideas behing their “dance”?


Chapter 5

What is the difference between a camera obscura and a camera lucida?

How did the Magic Lantern serve as a major vehicle for popular entertainment before movies were born?

Can you name two significant contributions to world culture made by the Swiss doctor Peter Mark Roget?

Whom would you say was the most significant pioneer in the invention of photography and why?

What were some early devices that preceded the development of the motion picture camera?

What role did the Republican governor of California, Leland Stanford, play in the development of the motion picture?

Who invented the movie camera and projector and when did they do it?

What role did Thomas Edison play in the development of the movies and why did many people fear and hate him so much?

Much has been made about the contribution of the Lumières  family (Antioine, Auguste and Louis) to the development of motion pictures. Why are they so venerated?

How did Hollywood become the major center for film-making in America?


Chapter 6

Who was Georges Meliés and why was he well suited to create movies?

Robert-Houdin was a famous French magician but his influence helped to change the course of motion pictures. Explain.

What were some of Meliés’ innovative ideas that influenced the cinema?

Discuss the significance of Meliés’ film Le Voyage dans la lune (1902). How was it innovative and why did Meliés ultimately fail as a film-maker?


Chapter 7

What was the difference between the art of Delacroix and Ingres and why did it force artists to choose up sides to follow one man or the other?

What was significant about Gustave Courbet’s paintings and how did it mirror his world view?

Monet and Manet were both considered to be Impressionists and yet their works differ a good deal from one another. What are some similarities and differences?

Do you see similarities in the life and work of Gustave Courbet and Vincent Van Gogh? Differences?

Edvard Munch was influenced by a number of artists and ideas. Discuss these influences, including other artists as well as psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and theater impressarios such as Max Reinhardt.

Why do you think that the painting The Scream has been so popular for so many years now? What does it say to contemporary Americans?

What were some of the major contributions of Sigmund Freud to the way in which people viewed the mentally ill?


Chapter 8:

To what extent was theater impresario Max Reinhardt an important player in the development of the Expressionist art movement?

Expressionist art was extremely dramatic but can you discuss Expressionist architecture?

How did art develop in France in the later 19th and early 20th centuries as opposed to Germany? What were some of the stylistic differences among the works of artists in these two areas at this time?

Was Cubism a real innovation in art or just the latest wrinkle in the post-Impressionist tradition?

Can you explain the characteristics of the art movement principally associated with Germany and known as Expressionist-Cubism and its importance?

To what extent was the movie The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1919) innovative and to what extent old hat?

What were some of the causes of World War I and what was the result of this war?



Chapter 9:

To what extent was the movie Metropolis (1927) a response to the post World War I problems of Germany and the Weimar Republic? What were some of the problems that caused the downfall of Weimar?

What are some of the principal themes that are offered in Metropolis and how many parallels do you see in today’s United States? What are the comparisons between rich and poor in the film and in our society? How is our society more or less complex than the world of Metropolis? Would the solutions espoused in the film improve our world today or are they too simplistic or invalid?

Discuss some of the religious imagery used in Metropolis?

How is science portrayed in the film Metropolis?

How is Gothic architecture used in the film Metropolis? To what extent does Trinity Church play a role in both Metropolis and our own times?


Chapter 10:

To what extent did Metropolis reflect the new styles of architecture emerging in the later 19th and early 20th centuries?

How did the American skyscraper evolve and what sorts of inventions made it possible?

How did Louis Sullivan decide to present the first American skyscrapers to the public? What sorts of decorative schemes did he employ.

A problem in Germany and the rest of the world too was where to put the workers in the plants of the industrial revolution. How did Germany deal with these problems in real life?

What is the connection between the Bauhaus and the movie Metropolis? How does the German term typisierung apply?

Describe the contributions of Erich Kettelhut to the film Metropolis.


Chapter 11

Who was Carl Laemmle and what was is contribution to the art history of the horror cinema?

Who were the major horror film stars at Universal Pictures and what are they known for?

What were the two main Universal Pictures horror movies of 1931 and how were they similar?

Is there such a thing as vampire literature and if so cite some examples.

Discuss the life of Bram Stoker and why he wrote Dracula?

What were some of the real-life occurrences that led to Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein?

What was the Universal style for horror movies and to what extent was it derived from Germanic sources?


Chapter 12:

What was vaudeville and when did it flourish in America?

Discuss some of the predecessors of vaudeville in America and how they led to the formation of vaudeville. Include the Lyceum and Chatauqua.

Why is Josiah Holbrook important for education in America?

Describe a riverboat show on the Mississippi River.

P. T. Barnum was a huckster and flim-flam artist who managed to make important contributions to American entertainment. What were they?

The term Jim Crow is used a great deal today in Civil Rights discussions. Where did it come from?

What were the major accomplishments of the Jamaican performer Bert Williams?

Discuss some of the difficulties faced by African-American performers in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Describe how minstrel shows reflected American values of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Who was Florenz Ziegfeld, Jr. and why was he considered an American icon in his day?


Chapter 13

The 1920s saw fundamental changes in American life. What were some of these changes and what was the cause of them?

What was meant in the 1920s by telling a female that she had “It”? Who was Elinor Glin and why was she so influential on her time?

Give a detailed definition of what is meant by Art Deco and how does it differ from Modernistic?

Can you name some of the artistic influences on the Art Deco style?

What role did ancient Egypt play in the Art Deco style?

Compare and contrast the Chrysler Building and the Empire State Building as symbols of their age. Why did both buildings have a spire on the top?

Why did the Jazz Age end?0


Chapter 14:

Why was Herbert Hoover ill-suited to be a president of the United States at the end of the 1920s? Why was Franklin Roosevelt better suited for this roll?

Radio City Music Hall is considered a transitional building at the crossroads of two major styles of American architecture. Discuss.

Miami Beach in Florida is a renowned center for 1930s architecture. Can you describe the elegant look that one finds there?

Discuss the work of pioneering industrial designers such as Raymond Loewy.

What is the difference between Art Deco and Depression modern design?

How did Busby Berkeley transform the movie musical?


Chapter 15:

Who was responsible for creating an appreciation of classical dance in America and why was she famous?

Focus on one of the great stars of American dance and explain why he or she was unique and what he or she contributed to American popular culture.

America has gone through a number of dancing crazes. Discuss one of these and who was responsible for popularizing it.

To what extent were schools of dance in America based on legitimate intellectual study of dance as an art form? What is your opinion of dance theory as practiced by some of the early so-called masters?

How important were Maurice Mouvet and Florence Walton to the history of American dance?

Discuss the development of tap dancing in America. Who were the early stars and from what did it emerge?


Chapter 16:

What was there in the early life of Alfred Hitchcock that influenced his film-making?

What is meant by the Hitchcock dialectic? Give some examples of his characteristics.

It is said that Alfred Hitchcock made the same film over and over again. Is this true and what is the evidence for it?

To what extent was Alfred Hitchcock influenced by his time in Germany?

To what extent did Alfred Hitchcock’s personal fears or neuroses influence his work?

What is meant by an objective correlative?

Explain the cinematic phenomenon of crisscrossing.


Chapter 17:

What was the general feeling of Americans in the early years of the 1950s? To what extent were they living the serene, contented lives often depicted on old television programs?

What was the Manhattan Project and why was it important?

How did Americans deal with Atomic Anxiety in the 1950s?

What is meant by the term McCarthyism that we hear in the media so often? What was blacklisting? HUAC?

How did American cinema reflect the feelings of the 1950s? Discuss a few films that illustrate the fears of the time.


Chapter 18:

Who were the Rosecrucians and what was their influence on art and literature at the end of the 19th century?

Symbolist art was enormously popular in the later 19th century. What were some of its most significant characteristics and what sort of people were the Symbolists?

What is the connection between Symbolism as an art form, Dada, Sigmund Freud and Surrealism?

Salvador Dali is often said to be the most typical Surrealist artist. Is this true?

Who was the forerunner of Surrealism? Who authored the Surrealist Manifesto? What were their ideas about art?

Go to YouTube and watch at least a little of a Dario Argento film such as Inferno. Discuss some of his ideas about Surreal filmmaking.


Chapter 19:

What was the appeal of Paul Gauguin to artists of the 1960s?

Why was poet Allen Ginsberg so admired by a certain group of society in the 1960s?

Where did the term Beatnik come from? Hippie?

Why was Timothy Leary a seminal figure to the so-called psychedelic generation?

How did the Beatles fit in with the social revolution occurring in the 1960s? Include Pop Art and Op Art in your discussion.

Discuss the styles of Jasper Johns and Ellsworth Kelly and their influence on the art world of the 1960s.

What were Ben-Day Dots and why did they become important for the history of art?

Why was Andy Warhol a giant of his life and times? What special qualities did he have that kept him in the forefront of popular culture?

Why is the forgotten Canadian author Marshall McLuhan’s work still significant today?

Discuss the humor of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and its relevance to its life and times. Cite an example of their humor from the Internet.