Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

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Unit Overview


This unit examines the role of art and visual culture in America during the twentieth century. A range of visual forms, painting, sculpture, photography, film and video, design, new media, architecture, museums and exhibitions are discussed within the societal contexts and historiography of a century known for dynamic political, economic and technological change. Using methodologies such as the social history of art, iconography and the diverse theoretical positions that have framed the art of the twentieth century, the unit explores the development, production and interpretation of visual culture in North America. Key themes that students are introduced to in lectures and encouraged to further examine through tutorial discussion, written analysis and a research essay include the exploration of the visual culture environment; the role of the artist; visual forms of cultural production; and the influence of modernism and globalisation on the development of an American cultural identity.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 3 option in the History of Art major sequence
  • Level 3 elective

Students are able to (1) develop a good knowledge of the historical development of visual culture and art in America; (2) use iconography and social context in the interpretation of American works of art; (3) locate works of art within the historical, cultural, economic and artistic conventions of American society; (4) employ skills in research, expression and critical thought; (5) acquire an advanced level of competency in the formulation, organisation and communication of ideas through essay writing, discussion and seminar presentations; and (6) develop substantial connections between American art and the broader cultural milieu.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) research essay; (2) short essay; and (3) seminar presentation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Adjunct Associate Professor Gary Dufour
Unit rules
at least one Level 2 unit from the History of Art major sequence
VISA2248 American Visual Culture.
VISA3331 Special Unit: Visual Culture and Art in America: 1900–2000
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.