This is a targeted exercise to hone your skills in analyzing an academic article and producing a concise written summary. You will be evaluated on your demonstration of critical thinking (careful reading of the article, intellectual grasp of the subject matter, ability to identify and analyze key components of the argument) and on your writerly competence (clarity of exposition, logical structure, ability to move from evidence to synthesis, careful editing).


Choose ONE of the following articles [available in Library Online Course Reserves]:

  • Sabine Kriebel, “Photomontage in the Age of Technological Reproducibility,” Revolutionary Beauty: The Radical Photomontages of John Heartfield (University of California Press, 2014), 64-103. 
  • Christina Kiaer, “Everyday Objects,” Imagine No Possessions: The Socialist Objects of Russian Constructivism (MIT Press, 2005), 41-87. 
  • Rosalind Krauss, “The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism,” The Originality of the Avant-Garde and Other Modernist Myths (MIT Press, 1985), 87-118. 

Read the article carefully, then formulate short answers to the 3 questions below. The completed assignment should be no more than 650 words. You do not need to write an essay: simply compose one paragraph in answer to each question (1,2,3).  You do not need to do any further reading, research, or reference other sources. You do not need to include footnotes. If you feel inclined to reference a short citation from the article simply include the page number in brackets after the quote.

  1. Summarize the author’s argument.
  2. Select for discussion one key concept that you find compelling. First indicate which concept you’ve selected and briefly indicate how the author defines it or uses it. Then explain what you find particularly convincing, intriguing, or useful about this concept. You might discuss how it enriches your understanding of a particular technology, medium, social phenomenon, or work of art. Or you might discuss how it is relevant to one of the course themes, or your own creative practices, or your thinking about art, activism, life in general.
  3. Identify one passage or idea in the article that you disagree with. Briefly describe the author’s position, then indicate which aspects of the argument you find unconvincing, debatable, problematic, biased or too narrowly defined. Articulate at least one plausible modification to the argument, or suggest an alternative approach, more expansive example, or counter-argument.

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