Public Art and its Publics Syllabus

ARTX 225 Public Art and its Publics Fall Quarter 2022

Instructor: Professor Christine Hahn
Email: or contact me through MSTeams.

Office Hours: 1:05 – 2:05pm Wednesdays or by appointment.

Course Description

New Orleans Cluster Course Information

In the history of art, public art has been the source of much commentary and controversy. After all, to call an artwork “public” is to suggest that it belongs to everyone—“the public”—and thus that anyone might have a say in it. But what makes an artwork public? This course is an opportunity to reflect on this and other questions, as we explore shifting conceptions and practices of public art in the United States from the 18th Century to the present, when older models of site-specific public art objects have ceded to an emphasis on community-oriented “social practice.”

This course works in tandem with a cluster of interrelated courses during the 2022-2023 academic year that are united by the overarching theme of “location and dislocation,” and draw from humanistic inquiry to construct justice-based notions of land, place, and belonging in response to humanistic concerns and social inequities (i.e., systemic racism, body and border policing, economic inequity, global warming, etc.).

After the conclusion of the quarter, cluster faculty and selected students will extend the classroom to New Orleans for a partial-unit study away experience. During this week-long trip to New Orleans, November 28th – December 4th, 2022, 4-5 students from each cluster course will undertake individual and collaborative research within and across the disciplinary knowledges acquired in their respective courses. The trip will prioritize place-based learning, humanities-based inquiry, and social justice problem-solving via relevant site visits, partnerships with local community organizations, and student-led discussion and reflection. At the end of the trip, students will publish their research on a digital humanities website.

Interested students will need to submit an application and research proposal by the Monday of Week 4 (3 October 2022). Applications will be reviewed by cluster faculty and the CIP. Participants will be chosen based on potential collaborative research intersections across courses and the importance of New Orleans as a site. Selected students will be notified by the Friday of Week 4 (7 October 2022) and will be expected to participate in preparatory workshops with their cluster cohort in the second half of the fall quarter. More information is available on the class Moodle site.

Goals, Purpose, Outcomes

  • Gain historical understanding of public art in the United States with a particular emphasis on the 20th century.
  • Study changing notions of public art and public space as sites of contestation over collective experiences and national memory.
  • Apply independent research to exploring a particular area or issue related to public art in more depth.


Reader Reports

Reader reports are submitted on Moodle by Sunday nights at 11:59pm. Each week, a selection of readings will be highlighted to be read carefully. Your Reader Report should consist of: 1) A 3-5 paragraph synopsis of the main points of the reading. 2) 3 or 4 quotes that are germane to the central arguments of the reading. 3) 2 or 3 questions you are asking of the material.

Midpoint and Final Essays

You will write a set of reflective essays of approximately 5 -7 pages in length in response to a set of guided questions. The prompt for each essay will be available on Moodle. Essays are due by Friday of 5th week and Monday of Finals Week, respectively, by 11:59pm EST.

Site Exploration

How often do you spend time noticing where you are? To encourage you to develop the habit of noticing and analyzing your surroundings, you will select and visit three sites/spaces during the quarter. Challenge yourself to stay in the same spot for at least 30 minutes. Set up a timer on your phone and take note of what things you notice about your space/site during that duration of time. Are you in a public space? A private space? What markers designate it as such? What do you hear and what do you smell? What made you want to stop in the spot you selected? Take a photograph and write a 3 – 4 paragraph reflection. Site Exploration Credits can be completed individually or in groups. If writing it up as a group, make sure to include everyone’s name on the forum post so I can give credit accordingly.

Public Art Mapping Project

A separate prompt will be posted on Moodle.

Community Events Forum

There is a LOT that happens during the quarter! If you know of an event coming up, or participated in one, receive 10 points each time you post about it on the Community Events forum. I will also be announcing opportunities throughout the quarter where you can receive double Community Events points by participating.

Due Dates

Reader Reports

Due Sunday evenings, starting with the Sunday evening of the start of week 2, by 11:59pm, uploaded onto Moodle.

Midpoint and Final Reflective Essays

Midpoint Essay due Friday night of 5th week; Final Essay due Monday night of Finals Week by 11:59pm.

Site Exploration

Posted by Monday of Finals Week by 11:59pm.

Public Art Mapping Project

Due Monday of Finals Week by 11:59pm.

Community Events

Posts due on the Moodle forum by Monday of Finals Week by 11:59pm.


Attendance100 points total (10 weeks, 10 points
per week)
Community Events Forum100 points total (10 points per post)
Reader Reports450 points total (9 Reader Reports,
50 points each)
Midpoint Reflective Essay150 points
Final Reflective Essay150 points
Public Art Mapping Project300 points
Site Analysis150 points (3 site visits, 50 points

This course utilizes contract grading. We will discuss how contract grading works during Week One.

There are 1400 total possible points.

Grading Scale

PointsLetter Grade
940+ pointsA
900 – 939A-
880 – 899B+
840 – 879B
800 – 839B-
780 – 799C+
740 – 779C
700 – 739C-
680 – 699D+
640 – 679D
600 – 639D-
599 and belowF

Class Policies

Classroom Interactions

Your communication with others in this class should be professional and polite. Even when we disagree strongly, we will focus on the content of arguments, not evaluations of other people’s character. To encourage respectful interaction, students are unable to revise or delete their comments on the discussion boards, so think carefully before you post.

For this reason, I encourage you to read the discussion board assignment early on, think about it for a few days, and then return to write and revise your answer before you post. If you see something inappropriate on our class discussion boards, please tell me. I’m not able to monitor posts as they arrive, so I rely on students to alert me if a post violates our classroom standards.

Recording Class Content

It is a violation of copyright law and may be a violation of FERPA (if you include student-related content) to share recordings or images produced in this or any other class without explicit permission from the instructor. Students in violation of this will be charged with an academic misconduct violation. While I encourage you to discuss what you are learning in this class with friends and family members, you may not share recorded lectures, notes that I have written, or other content I have created without my written permission, and you may NEVER share comments or other content written by your classmates. This is a violation of the trust in our classroom as well as copyright law.