Phil 320/Art 320 -- Philosophy of the Arts


Theodore Gracyk 

Office: 477-4089           

This is a Writing Intensive Course. The quality of your formal writing will affect your course grade. Most of your course grade is based on formal essays that you write. The first of these essays will be submitted as a draft. It will be submitted to the instructor for comments before it is completed.

The course combines informal writing (your "real questions"), integrative formal writing in which you will explain, integrate, and evaluate material covered in the assigned readings (five essays), and one less formal essay (a final exam).  

Robert Hughes, one of the most articulate and important art critics of recent years, has said this about the process of writing: “My main impulse for writing a book was to force myself to find out about things I didn't know. … Otherwise, why do it at all?” This point encapsulates my goals for having you write. Writing is a mode of exploration. There is no reason to write except to find out things you did not already know, including things about yourself, such as your own position on controversial topics. 

Writing Intensive Outcomes

  • You will use a coherent writing process including invention, organization, drafting, revising, and editing to form an effective final written product. To do this, the course will combine informal and formal writing. Informal writing will be used to formulate ideas that will be important in formal writing. The first paper will require submitting a draft.
  • You will consult effectively and appropriately with others to produce quality written products. To do this, the first paper will require submitting a draft.
  • You will read, analyze, evaluate, synthesize, and integrate appropriately and ethically both information and ideas from diverse sources or points of view in their writing. To do this, you will write essays, quizzes, and a final exam. Each will require you to integrate material from multiple sources (e.g., different books plus material presented in class).
  • You will create logical, engaging, effective written products appropriate for specific audiences and purposes. Students will be provided with a rubric that clarifies this expectation.
  • You will use correct grammar and mechanics in writing. Essays will not be graded unless they satisfy reasonably high standards, spelled out in the assignments.

Grammar, Spelling, & Writing Mechanics

Carefully proofread your papers. For the final versions of assigned papers, I will accept no more than a total sum of three grammatical errors, typos and spelling errors per page. If you exceed this number, I will return the paper to you at our next class meeting. It must then be handed in, “cleaned up,” no later than the next scheduled class meeting. Such papers will count as one day late. (Notice that if you fail to attend the class session in which I return the papers and your paper needs rewriting to meet the minimum mechanical standards, you do not receive any kind of special extension.)

If I return a paper to you to be “cleaned up” and it is not re-submitted at the next class meeting, it will receive an additional grade reduction for each day that it is not returned to me. A paper that is not “cleaned up” by the time of the final exam receives a grade of F.

If you are worried about your ability to write a paper without making excessive errors, you should bring a draft to the instructor during scheduled office hours. (If you cannot meet with the instructor during those hours, an appointment can be made for another time.)  OR visit the write site! Tutors are available. 

For more information, see or call 218-477-5937.


All versions of all the formal writing must conform to basic format rules. 

  • They must be typed and double-spaced. 

  • Margins of an inch on the top and bottom and on the left and right sides of the page are standard. (Margins of an inch and a quarter on the sides are acceptable.) 

  • Twelve point fonts are standard. 

  • The essay must have a cover page. Put your name on the cover page. Do not put your name anywhere else on the essay. 

  • Put the word count on the cover page.

  • Page numbers must be on the pages. Do not put a page number on the cover page.

  • Add a bibliography if you need one. Bibliography does not apply to your word count. (See below).


You will write four papers. Each paper must cover the following, although not necessarily in this order:

  • What is the central idea of the assigned topic?
  • Explain the idea by discussing one of the examples of art you selected on the first day.
  • What do you personally think about this topic? (This is your thesis.)
  • You will defend your own thesis on this topic by providing relevant reasons in favor of your thesis.
  • You will present and critique at least one serious objection to your own position.
    (Don't know how to write a response of this kind? Look HERE.)


  • correctly comprehend the issues involved.
  • can reconstruct the thinking of others.
  • can clearly articulate your ideas and present them in an organized way.
  • can critically evaluate what others think.
  • can use correct grammar and mechanics in writing.
  • can argue persuasively in support of a thesis.

For a fuller account of my writing expectations, see my "Expectations about Essays" page.





THERE IS SIMPLY NO REASON TO DO ANY ADDITIONAL RESEARCH for the papers written for this course.

  • Your writing should be absolutely clear about which ideas are your own, original ideas and which are the ideas of other people. 

  • If you incorporate ideas from any source other than class lecture or the assigned readings, you must attach a bibliography of all of those sources. (Notice that this applies to ideas, not just actual words taken from a source.)

  • If you quote from any source (including the assigned readings), you must attach a bibliography of all sources.

If you use any additional sources, you must provide a complete bibliography of those sources. The bibliography does not count toward the word/page count for the paper. If you use any outside source and fail to indicate it in the bibliography, the paper will receive a failing grade. (Exceptions to the bibliography rule: You are always free to consult the assigned readings for this course, dictionaries, writing guides, grammar books, etc.).


This is an upper level course. I will enforce the University's policies on student conduct. I expect all essays to conform to recognized standards of presentation, originality, and documentation of sources. 

The University expects all students to represent themselves in an honest fashion. In academic work, students are expected to present original ideas and to give credit to the ideas of others. The value of a college degree depends on the integrity of the work completed by the student. For more information, click here. 

You are strongly urged to ask questions whenever you feel the need.  
Remember that there are no stupid questions, merely unprepared professors.

This page last updated Aug. 25, 2012