Writing a paper for an art history course is similar to the analytical, research-based papers that you may have written in English literature courses or history courses. Although art historical research and writing does include the analysis of written documents, there are distinctive differences between art history writing and other disciplines because the primary documents are works of art. A key reference guide for researching and analyzing works of art and for writing art history papers is the most recent edition of Sylvan Barnetâ€™s work, A Short Guide to Writing about Art. Barnet directs students through the steps of thinking about a research topic, collecting information, and then writing and documenting a paper.
A condensed but useful guide is the â€śArt History Writing Guideâ€ť posted by Wesleyan University,
Another website with helpful tips for writing art history papers is posted by the University of North Carolina, www.unc.edu/depts/wcweb/handouts/arthistory.html
The following are basic guidelines that you should use when documenting research papers for any art history class at UALR. Solid, thoughtful research and correct documentation of the sources used in this research (i.e., footnotes/endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations**) are essential. Additionally, these Guidelines remind students about plagiarism, a serious academic offense.
Research papers should be keyed using a 12-point font, double-spaced. Ample margins should be left for the instructorâ€™s comments. All margins should be one and one-half inches. Pages should be numbered. The cover sheet for the paper should include the following information: title of paper, your name, course title and number, course instructor, and date paper is submitted.
Documentation of Resources
The Chicago Manual of Style, as described in the most recent edition of Sylvan Barnetâ€™s A Short Guide to Writing about Art is the department standard. Although you may have used MLA style for English papers or other disciplines, the Chicago Style is required for all students taking art history courses at UALR. There are significant differences between MLA style and Chicago Style. A â€śQuick Guideâ€ť for the Chicago Manual of Style footnote and bibliography format is found http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Be sure to follow the examples given for humanities subjects, indicated by â€śNâ€ť for the note style and â€śBâ€ť for the bibliography style. Examples of Chicago Manual of Style for some types of note and bibliography references are given below.
The chapter â€śManuscript Formâ€ť in the Barnet book provides models for the correct forms for footnotes/endnotes and the bibliography. For example, the note form for the FIRST REFERENCE to a book with a single author is:
1Bruce Cole, Italian Art 1250-1550 (New York: New York University Press, 1971), 134.
But the BIBLIOGRAPHIC FORM for that same book is:
Cole, Bruce. Italian Art 1250-1550. New York: New York University Press. 1971.
The FIRST REFERENCE to a journal article with a single author in a footnote is:
12 Anne H. Van Buren, â€śMadame CĂ©zanneâ€™s Fashions and the Dates of Her Portraits,â€ť Art Quarterly 29 (1966): 199.
The FIRST REFERENCE to a journal article with a single author in the BIBLIOGRAPHY is:
Van Buren, Anne H. â€śMadame CĂ©zanneâ€™s Fashions and the Dates of Her Portraits.â€ť Art Quarterly 29 (1966): 185-204.
Citations for Internet sources should follow the form described in Barnetâ€™s chapter, â€śWriting a Research Paper.â€ť For example, the footnote or endnote reference given by Barnet for a web site is:
33 Nigel Strudwick, Egyptology Resources, with the assistance of The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, Cambridge University, 1994, revised 16 June 2008, http://www.newton.ac.uk/egypt/, 24 July 2008.
If you use microform or microfilm resources, consult the most recent edition of Kate Turabian, A Manual of Term Paper, Theses and Dissertations. This is held at the reference desk in the main library.
C. Visual Documentation (Illustrations)
Art history papers require visual documentation such as photographs, photocopies, or scanned images of the art works you discuss. In the chapter â€śManuscript Formâ€ť in A Short Guide to Writing about Art, Barnet explains how to identify illustrations or â€śfiguresâ€ť in the text of your paper and how to caption the visual material. Each photograph, photocopy, or scanned image should appear on a single sheet of paper unless two images and their captions will fit on a single sheet of paper with one and one-half inch margins on all sides. Note also that the title of a work of art is always italicized. For UALR art history papers, illustrations are placed at the end of the paper, not within the text. Within the text, a sentence that references the illustration at the end of the paper would read:
Edvard Munchâ€™s painting The Scream, dated 1893, represents a highly personal, expressive response to an experience the artist had while walking one evening (Figure 1).
The caption that accompanies the illustration at the end of the paper would read:
Figure 1. Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893. Tempera and casein on cardboard, 36 x 29â€ť (91.3 x 73.7 cm). Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo, Norway.
Plagiarism is considered a form of thievery and is illegal. According to Websterâ€™s New World Dictionary, to plagiarize is to â€śtake and pass off as oneâ€™s own the ideas, writings, etc. of another.â€ť If you are unsure about what is and what is not plagiarism, consult the link under â€śResearchâ€ť on the UALR Ottenheimer Library website, http://library.ualr.edu/research Barnet has some useful guidelines for acknowledging sources in his chapter â€śManuscript Form;â€ť review them so that you will not be guilty of theft.
Plagiarism is a serious offense, and students should understand that checking papers for plagiarized content is easy to do with Internet resources. Plagiarism will be reported as academic dishonesty to the Dean of Students; see Section VI of the Student Handbook which cites plagiarism as a specific violation. Take care that you fully and accurately acknowledge the source of another author, whether you are quoting the material verbatim or paraphrasing. Borrowing the idea of another author by merely changing some or even all of your sourceâ€™s words does not allow you to claim the ideas as your own. You must credit both direct quotes and your paraphrases. Again, Barnetâ€™s chapter â€śManuscript Formâ€ť sets out clear guidelines for avoiding plagiarism.