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Art History: A Preliminary Handbook

by Dr. Robert J. Belton

Some Points for Writing any Essay

The essay is to be typed, double-spaced with ample margins, and clipped together if necessary. Ask your instructor if you should use commercial folders or binders.

Do not pad the paper with unnecessary additional material. Be critical. This does not mean that you are to demolish the picture, the artist or the period in general, but that your comments are to be carefully weighed, considered and evaluated. See Three Important Acronyms.

In any intellectual undertaking, a systematic approach offers certain advantages over a haphazard or random one. After you have arranged the facts and ideas mentally, begin to look for conclusions that can be drawn from your work. Check these with the actual work of art to avoid making incorrect statements. If there is some point of iconography puzzling you, look it up in an encyclopedia or a reputable dictionary of symbols. (Ignore grocery-store books filled with dream- symbols and the like. See the basic research section below.) Check that all symbolic (and other) interpretations are plausible. This usually means that the artist was consciously aware of their significance, but there are some exceptions, as in Freudian or Jungian criticism.

© Copyright 1996 Robert J. Belton

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:13:10 PM