The goal of Critical Perspectives is to develop students' powers as critical, creative and active (rather than passive) thinkers. Students will achieve this goal by engaging with a variety of works, most of which focus upon issues in the arts. While the assignments are tailored to shed light on ways that artists perceive issues in art and the community of which they are a part, emphasis will be placed on the students' writing of critical, analytical, argumentative and persuasive essays. The students will explore definitions of art and artists, and develop the capacity to view every work of art as a "text" that is available for analysis. As writers they will have to effectively articulate that analysis and to question the authority of the text itself.

How do students describe Critical Perspectives?

"Too many students today cannot communicate what they think and feel, stumbling over words and searching for the correct phrase that just won't come. Critical Perspectives helps train this technique through a discussion-based class environment, using reading and writing assignments as a catalyst for the heart of the class -- group discusion, debate and expression. This is a class where students quickly learn that defending their opinions and convictions with 'it's this way because it just is' or because I said so' will not sell an audience or win an argument anywhere. "Above all, Critical Perspectives is a Rhetoric class. It teaches students to explain, develop and elaborate on ideas they have personally formed. In short, to begin to define the transition from internal thought and understanding to external comprehension. To share one's vision and make others see what you are seeing. Communication." -First year film school student

"The goal of Critical Perspectives is to teach the artist to present his ideas in a logical and convincing manner. Writing teaches focus. To write, one must know clearly what he thinks on a subject. If he does not, he will soon encounter great difficulty in writing a well-organized piece." - First year music student

"... The world is an incredibly varied place; there are more people not like you then are like you. So you better learn to respect others' opinions and viewpoints. "You have to learn how to 'read between the lines.' Everything is not as it seems, nor is it cut and dried. You have to dig in and try to figure out what the author or creator is trying to tell you through the great metaphor of art. There is always a surface message that you can clearly see, but you have to learn to look closer and find the true message. It's critical thinking, and that's why it's called critical perspectives. "You have to learn how to present your argument in a clear way. It must be convincing and valid. You have to figure out what you're aruging and why, and then how to do it in the most logical way." - Second year dance student.

"The key to success in Critical Perspectives comes from finding and maintaining a balance between free thinking and organized thought. You have to be able to let your mind wander far enough to come up with new and interesting ideas, while at the same time having the discipline to organize those ideas into a structured format. You will find this theme running throughout the entire course." - First year film student.

"When you look at an abstract work of art, you may automatically think it is nothing but junk. Instead you must search deeper and understand why the artist chose to do this. What was his/her inspiration? The inspiration could change the entire meaning of what you once looked at as strange. Even if you still do not like the art work, you can learn to respect the artist's choice of expression. Art is a form of communication. The artist is always trying to say something; so listen before judging." - First year dance student

"This course isn't about how much knowledge you have in stories, novels, poems, poets, etc. It's about how you apply the information you have. You can have all of the knowledge in the word on any given subject, but if you can't present it in an orderly fashion that is also interesting, then it becomes useless." - First year film student

"Picking a side and coming up with reasons are just stepping stones to something greater. You have to convey those ideas to others. You have to learn how to write. You need to know what form of writing is appropriate for the given stiuation and how to execute it." - first year film student