Liberal Arts – General Ed

General Education Rationale

Both depth and breadth of study characterize the degree programs at Memphis College of Art. Intensive training in the major provides depth; general education provides breadth through the wide range of courses offered in the Division of Liberal Arts. These courses empower students with broad knowledge and the transferable skills of critical thinking, effective writing, and effective oral communication, thereby enriching both their studio practices and their lives.

The Liberal Arts curriculum encompasses the three main branches of the liberal arts and sciences: humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences/math. By taking courses in each of these three broad areas, students assimilate a range of scholarly approaches, methods of inquiry, and habits of mind. Instead of merely memorizing information, students learn, for example, how an anthropologist does research, how a philosopher approaches a problem, and how a mathematician thinks.

MCA requires 45 total credits in Liberal Arts, distributed across the curriculum as follows: 12 credits in art history, 6 credits in writing, 3 credits in literature, 3 credits in a social science, 3 credits in a natural science or math, and 18 additional credits in electives drawn from any of the Liberal Arts courses except art history.

The 12-credit emphasis upon art history reflects the importance of this discipline to the future practicing artist. Two courses in writing (6 credits) support the skills of critical thinking and writing at the freshman level that are essential for success in college as well as in a future career. One course in literature (3 credits) ensures that students have met great works of literature and have engaged in analysis and interpretation, activities that require critical thinking. Distribution requirements across the Liberal Arts curriculum (at least 3 credits in each of the three main branches of the liberal arts and sciences) ensure the breadth of knowledge expected of a college graduate. Electives (18 credits, or 6 courses) allow students to pursue an interest and/or to sample a number of fields outside their art major. All general education courses support one or more of the general education outcomes of critical thinking, effective writing, and effective oral communication. Liberal Arts course descriptions allow students and faculty advisors to make informed choices in fulfilling the general education requirements at MCA. Together, MCA’s general education experiences provide the foundation for lifelong learning, cultural awareness, and social responsibility, creating future leaders who are eager to understand and participate in a diverse and complex world.

General Education Outcomes:

The following student learning outcomes were developed by the General Education Committee of Memphis College of Art and approved by the general Faculty.  Upon successful completion of any general education course, students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to effectively perform at least one of the following outcomes.  The relevant General Education outcomes covered in a course will be published in the course syllabus.  Faculty will use the universal general education rubric to assess select assignment(s) for the outcomes listed on the syllabus.

Outcome 1:            Students will be able to think critically.
Outcome 2:            Students will be able to write clearly and effectively, demonstrated by (1) clear focus, organization, development of written assignments, (2) use of appropriate writing style, (3) effective use of sources and/or knowledge of subject matter, (4) skillful use of writing conventions.
Outcome 3:            Students will be able to speak clearly and effectively, demonstrated by   clarity of ideas; effective grammar and articulation.

General Education Requirements at MCA

Art History (12 credits or 4 courses required)

Required courses (6 credits–prerequisites to all Art History electives)
AH100 Art History Survey I (3 credits)
AH150 Art History Survey II (3 credits)

Electives (6 credits–choose 2 courses)
AH200 Renaissance Art (3 credits)
AH210 Baroque Art (3 credits)
AH225 Nineteenth-Century Art (3 credits)
AH227 Modern Art: 1900-1945 (3 credits)
AH230 Art Since 1945 (3 credits)
AH250 History of Graphic Design (3 credits)
AH270 American Art (3 credits)
AH300 Art of First People (3 credits)
AH303 Art of Asia (3 credits)
AH310 History of Film I (3 credits)
AH311 History of Film II (3 credits)
AH320 History of Photography (3 credits)
AH330 Art and Architecture (3 credits)
AH331 Modern Architecture I (3 credits)
AH332 Modern Architecture II (3 credits)
AH350 Art and Design: The 50s (3 credits)
AH360 The Artist and the Era (3 credits)
AH375 African-American Art (3 credits)
AH380 Women in Art (3 credits)
AH420 Topics in Art History (3 credits)
AH450 Art History Seminar (3 credits)


Required Courses in Writing (6 credits or 2 courses)

HU090 Grammar and Composition (a noncredit review course that is prerequisite to             Writing I only for students with ACT English subscore below 19 or SAT verbal score below 460.)
HU101 Writing I (3 credits)
HU102 Writing II (3 credits)


Literature (3 credits–choose 1 course)

HU215 Literature Survey (3 credits)
HU222 Philosophy in Literature (3 credits)
HU245 Survey of World Drama (3 credits)
HU285 Southern Literature (3 credits)
Additional 200-level literature courses may be taken to fulfill the 18-credit elective requirement.


Humanities Electives (any of these courses can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

HU200 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)
HU203 Philosophy and Film (3 credits)
HU205 Elementary Logic  (3 credits) (also satisfies the Natural Science/Math                 requirement)
HU210 Values in Contemporary Society (3 credits)
HU240 Creative Writing: Fiction (3 credits)
HU241 Creative Writing: Poetry (3 credits)
HU290 Survey of American Popular Music I (3 credits)
HU291 Survey of American Popular Music II (3 credits)
HU340 Eastern Philosophy and Religion (3 credits)
HU341 The Human and the Divine (3 credits)
HU350 Text and Image (3 credits)
HU360 Modern Literature (3 credits)
HU368 Contemporary Novel (3 credits)
HU370 Critical Writing (3 credits)
HU387 Forms of Fiction (3 credits)
HU391 Art Speak (3 credits)
HU410 Philosophy of Art (3 credits)
HU220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Humanities: Special Topics (3 credits)


Social Sciences Electives (3 credits–choose 1 course; additional social science courses can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

SS226 Introduction to Psychology (3 credits)
SS275 Cultural Anthropology (3 credits)
SS330 Abnormal Psychology (3 credits)
SS333 Film and Gender (3 credits)
SS342 Women’s Studies (3 credits)
SS345 World Mythologies (3 credits)
SS375 Anthropology of Art (3 credits)
SS220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Social Science: Special Topics (3 credits)


Natural Sciences/Mathematics Electives (3 credits–choose 1 course; additional natural science/mathematics credits can be applied toward the 18-credit elective requirement)

MA165 College Mathematics (3 credits)
HU205 Elementary Logic (3 credits) (HU205 is a Humanities course that satisfies the Natural Science/Math requirement)
MA220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Mathematics: Special Topics (3 credits)
NS250 History of Science (3 credits)
NS265 Environmental Studies (3 credits)
NS310 Anatomy and Physiology (3 credits)
NS220-21, 320-21, 420-21 Natural Science: Special Topics (3 credits)



Art History

AH100 Art History Survey I.

A chronological study of Western art from prehistory through the Middle Ages, providing an understanding of movements, time periods, and individual artists. May include discussion of non-Western traditions.
(offered every semester)

AH150 Art History Survey II.

A chronological study of Western art from the Renaissance to the present, including influential trends toward Modernism in the twentieth century. May include discussion of non-Western traditions.
(offered every semester)

AH100 and AH150 are prerequisites
for all Art History courses at the 200 level or above.

AH200 Renaissance Art.

Architecture, sculpture, and painting from the early Renaissance through the sixteenth century, emphasizing perspective, new stylistic conventions, and changing roles for artists.
(offered infrequently)

AH210 Baroque Art.

An exploration of the dynamic spread of the Baroque from Rome to the rest of Europe and Latin America. Includes works by masters such as Caravaggio, Bernini, Velasquez, Rubens, and Rembrandt.
(offered infrequently)

AH225 Nineteenth-Century Art.

A study of art from the French Revolution to the turn of the twentieth century, including Neo-Classicism, Romanticism, Realism, Impressionism, and Post-Impressionism.
(offered every other academic year)

AH227 Modern Art: 1900-1945.

Introduction to the major movements and artists of the twentieth century—primarily European—prior to World War II. Emphasis on the fundamental tenets of Modernist art and the various manifestations of the Modernist avant-garde.
(offered every other academic year)

AH230 Art Since 1945.

An examination of global art and theory from World War II to the present. Topics include Abstract Expressionism, Pop, Minimalism, Land Art, Conceptual Art, Body and Performance Art, and Postmodernism.
(offered every other academic year)

AH250 History of Graphic Design.

Historical and contemporary visual languages of the discipline of graphic design. Emphasis on pioneers of modern design, the constructed expression of concept, and the technological evolution of visual communication.
(offered infrequently)

AH270 American Art.

Art of the United States from the colonial period to 1945. The main focus is European-influenced painting, sculpture, and architecture that developed in America throughout the seventeenth, eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries. Special attention given to questions of material culture, patronage, nationalism, interchange with European fine art traditions, images of and artistic production of Native Americans and African Americans, and the arrival, reception, and subsequent flowering of Modernism in America.
(offered every other academic year)

AH300 Art of First People.

Art in relation to the culture of an indigenous population in North or South America, Mesoamerica, or sub-Saharan Africa. The survival and revival of ancient traditions in modern times are examined. Focus of the course may change; topics are announced through semester course descriptions. May be repeated once when course content changes.
(offered every academic year)

AH303 Art of Asia.

Exploration of the art and culture of Asia, specifically India, China, Japan, Korea or Southeast Asia. Styles of the area under consideration are studied in various media, including bronze, ceramics, painting, and architecture. Modernist and contemporary developments are considered. Focus of the course may change; topics are announced through semester course descriptions. May be repeated once when course content changes.
(offered infrequently)

AH310 History of Film I.

Film as an art form is explored through a number of possible avenues. This exploration may take a historical and developmental approach, or concentrate on particular writers, directors, genres, motifs and countries. Readings accompany each film and serve as a basis for discussion.

AH311 History of Film II.

A continuation of AH310, commencing with German Expressionism and its influence on the American genre of film noir. Extending from the classical through the contemporary cinema, selected American and international films form the basis of an exploration of film artistry, technique and theory. Readings accompany each film and serve as a basis for discussion. History of Film I is not a prerequisite, although it is recommended.

AH320 History of Photography.

A topically arranged survey of world photography, taking as its central concern the multiple purposes to which photography has been adapted since its “discovery” in the early nineteenth century. Although the relationship between photography and fine art is considered, the many non-art uses of the medium are also discussed in an attempt to better understand the cultural contexts in which photography has been employed.
(offered every academic year)

AH330 Art and Architecture.

A world-wide survey of exemplary spaces that rely on a positive relationship between architecture and other media, such as sculpture and painting. The role of Nature (the site) is also examined. Videos and site visits supplement slide lectures.
(offered infrequently)

AH331 Modern Architecture I.

Trends and styles in Europe and the U.S. from Jefferson to World War II, including the skyscraper, Wright, the Bauhaus, and Art Deco. (offered every other academic year)

AH332 Modern Architecture II.

Post-war optimism led to exciting developments at mid-century. The International Style gave way to Post-Modernism. Johnson, Eames, Kahn, Pei and other leaders are examined.
(offered every other academic year)

AH350 Art and Design: The 1950s.

Many media are studied in relation to Post-World War II trends: the Baby Boom, the Cold War, Civil Rights, gender roles, consumerism, and car culture. Artifacts from the local environment will be examined. (offered every academic year)

AH360 The Artist and the Era.

Focused study of a particular artist and cultural milieu, leading to an understanding of how time and place condition creativity as well as the production of art and design. Artists such as Picasso, Duchamp, Eames, and Warhol have been covered in past semesters. Topics are announced through semester course descriptions. May be repeated once when course content changes.
(offered infrequently)

AH370 African-American Art.

A survey of the rich and varied artistic production of people of African descent in the United States from the colonial period to the present.  Discussion of the cultural and artistic interchange between West and Central Africa, Europe, and America that created a distinctive African-American artistic tradition and produced a wide range of visual culture, including ceramics, furniture, quilts, architecture, painting, sculpture, photography, textiles, mixed media, installations, performance, and video. The contrast between how African Americans represent themselves and how others represent them is an important theme.
(offered every other academic year)

AH380 Women in Art.

An exploration of gender issues as they pertain to women in the history of art. Topics include a historical survey of women artists; the role of women throughout history and how these roles affected the availability of artistic training for women; the representation of women in art; feminist art criticism and theory; and contemporary post-feminist methodologies.
(offered every other academic year)

AH420 Topics in Art History.

Study in a specialized area of art history. Topics are announced through semester course descriptions. May be repeated once when course content changes.

AH450 Art History Seminar.

Exploration of a specific area within art history, structured around group discussion and student presentations. Topics may be oriented chronologically, topically, geographically, or monographically, and are announced through semester course descriptions. May be repeated once when course content changes. Prerequisites: TBD by individual faculty member.