Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture

Undergraduate - Unit

This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2012 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

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6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered, or view unit timetables.

FacultyFaculty of Art, Design and Architecture
OfferedCaulfield Second semester 2012 (Day)
Coordinator(s)Melissa Miles


This unit looks at key moments in history in which art and artists have actively strived to generate social change. With a particular focus on the late 20th and 21st centuries, Art and Social Change critically explores the dynamic sites in which art, life and activism intersect. Diverse contexts and artistic practices will be examined. Topics include the use of art in political propaganda, culture jamming, identity politics, indigenous art and politics, the environment, art and the impact of global terrorism, and critiques of the art world itself. These thematic weekly study topics will be complimented by discussions of theory from key writers and theorists in the field.


Upon successful completion of this unit, students will:

  1. Have developed an appreciation for the diverse ways in which artists have intervened in the social world since the modern period.
  2. Approach art history with an appreciation for the social and political forces that inform art practice.
  3. Be able to analyse activist art critically in a manner that reveals the strengths and weaknesses of different artistic approaches.
  4. Be familiar with the key political philosophies that have informed the production and reception of politically motivated art.
  5. Be able to express verbally and in writing critical points of connection between art and social change.
  6. Understand the links between practice, theory and spectatorship in activist art.


Critical thinking and writing exercise, 1500 words (40%)
Research Essay, 2500 words (55%)
Class participation and engagement (5%)
Third year level students are expected to read at a higher standard

Chief examiner(s)

Melissa Miles

Contact hours

12 hours per week including 3 contact hours per week and 9 hours of independent study or equivalent.


12 credit points of at first year level in Theory of Art and Design, Visual Culture or Cultural Studies.


Must not have passed TAD2120