Theme: portrayal of family meal
Jan Steen, The Merry Family (style: Dutch Baroque), 1668
Van Gogh, The Potato Eaters (style: Postimpressionism), 1885
For your contemporary connection, try looking at home improvement magazines/television
shows, commercial advertising
Some possible research sources:
Select two works from this list. The first work will be from one of the following categories: baroque, rococo,
neoclassicism, or romanticism. The second will be
modern (e.g., realism, impressionism, postimpressionism), postmodern, or contemporary (created within
the past ten years). You will identify a common/shared
theme (e.g., social or cultural issue) in both works. For example, in Judith Leyster’s Self Portrait (Dutch
Baroque, 1630) and Frida Kahlo’s The Two Fridas
(surrealism, 1939), a shared theme is the presentation of selAfter identifying the common theme in both works, you will develop an essay that explores how each work
is a product of its particular historical moment.
Finally, you will address the relevance of this shared theme in contemporary culture by choosing a third
work that exemplifies this theme. This third work could
be a specific contemporary work (created within the past ten years) belonging to any genre of the arts or
even a contemporary social construct such as reality
television or social media. For example, you could consider the presentation of self as a relevant and
recurring theme on Facebook today.
Specifically, the following critical elements must be addressed:
This section of the comparative analysis will introduce readers to the works you have selected to analyze.
A. For each work, identify the artist, the title (in italics), the date, the medium, the dimensions, the cultural
origin or period of creation, and the
B. What is your main argument/thesis statement about the relationship between your selected works and
their shared theme?
II. Visual and Historical Analysis
This section will provide a visual and historical analysis in which you will analyze the physical
characteristics in each work as well as the connections of
each work to its historical and cultural context.
A. Explain how each of your two selected works reflects the social or cultural identity of its day. Support
your response with examples.
B. What influence have your two selected works had in the shaping of social or cultural identities?
C. What influence have your two selected works had on a modern or contemporary expression of the
identified shared theme? Support your
response with examples.
III. Comparative Analysis
In this section, you will compare and contrast your two selected works.
A. What formal characteristics are similar between the two works? What characteristics are different? Be
sure to reference specific aspects of each
B. How did each respective culture’s traditions and ideologies influence the two works you have selected?
Be sure to use examples to support your
In this section, you will introduce a third creative work and explain how that work parallels the relationship
between the two works previously selected.
A. How do the shared historical themes and settings tie your two previously selected works to your work
from popular culture?
B. Discuss how the theme is still relevant today, utilizing the popular culture work you selected to support
In this section, you will discuss the relevance and value of studying works of art and cultural artifacts with
regard to their influence, relevance, and impact
on modern and contemporary culture and practice.
A. What is the value of challenging perceived notions of historical, cultural, and social identity? How do the
humanities, as a discipline, help us
understand this? Be sure to justify your response.
B. How does our understanding of social and cultural practices of the past impact how we conduct
ourselves socially and professionally in the
present? How do the humanities, as a discipline, help us understand this? Be sure to justify your response.C. What is the responsibility of the artist to society, especially in terms of shaping our understanding of
ourselves and the world in which we live?
How do the humanities, as a discipline, help us understand this? Be sure to justify your response.