Tag: finals

Netherlandish Proverbs by  Brugel

Getting ready for an Art Humanities final? To help you study, we’re sharing notes written by Colin Howard, CC ’17 that will make sure you’re ready to ace the exam.

Overview & Agenda

  • Exams will cover different material depending on the instructor. For example, Knox’s section does not cover Frank Lloyd Wright or Corbu, so this session will not focus on those, and her final is not cumulative.
  • The point of Art Hum is to help students learn visual literacy; in others worrds, how to read a work of art: its formal aspects, functions, expressive content, and aesthetic merits.
  • Understanding the different media, tools, and methods used to create a work is also important
  • This class traces the evolution of mimesis, illusion, and representation in Western art. That’s why we start with Greece – the human form represented in the way it appears to us in “reality.” This review session will follow that evolution.

Important Questions

  • What is art?
  • Why do we look at art? What are we looking for? (Hint: art wants you to understand different things in different eras.)
  • Who collects and commissions art? What’s the purpose of art from their perspective?
  • What is a masterpiece and does that matter?
  • What do the visual arts share with literature? With music?
  • Why do we make art? What purpose does it serve? Some examples:
    • Religion
    • Politics
    • Economic (status, wealth)
    • Social (identity)
    • Awareness of the Human Body
    • Beauty
  • How does a work of art comment on:
    • the personal life of the artist?
    • the historical context of the work?
    • the subject? (e.g. portraiture)
    • gender?
    • how we engage with space?
  • How do we respond to art:
    • physically?
    • conceptually?
    • spiritually?
    • emotionally?
    • sexually?
  • Does art have a history? It may help us to track the evolution of various genres:
    • history painting (or “grand narrative” painting),
    • portraiture and self-portraiture,
    • the nude,
    • landscape (which really arises after Bruegel), and
    • still life (which Knox’s section didn’t focus on too much).

Key Terms

  • Mimesis – the imitation or representation of aspects of the sensible world
  • Representation – causing a work of art to replicate an aspect of “reality,” insofar as it is possible
  • Illusion – how a work of art appears to be something it is not (e.g., when a painting appears three-dimensional)
  • Medium – the physical materials used to create a particular work
  • Composition – how materials are used to create order in a particular work
  • Naturalism – an attempt to reconcile art with the reality we perceive
  • Abstraction – working with art on a higher level, removed from reality (cf. naturalism)
  • Modernism – a philosophical and artistic movement interested in re-examining inherited truths and artistic methods, and finding truth and beauty in everyday life

The First Half of the Course

  • The Parthenon & Greek Sculpture
    • Order – as in the various orders of columns used in the Parthenon. The construction of structures is regulated as much as possible for ease of replication.
    • Proportion – harmony, as in using the proportions of the human body in architecture.
    • Contrapposto – one approach to representing an understanding of how the human body turns and is most comfortable.
    • Naturalism – an interest in presenting the human body that looks appropriate, rather than awkward (e.g. the sculptural program at the Amiens cathedral) or abstract (e.g. Picasso’s Les Demoiselles d’Avignon).
    • Mimesis – as before.
  • The Gothic and Amiens Cathedral
    • Vaulting – upward-gesturing vaults, as opposed to rectangles in Greek architecture and semicircular arches in Roman architecture, increase the space available.
    • Houses of Worship – French Gothic architecture in cathedrals focuses less on housing the gods, and more on housing the worshippers.
    • Light – opening up a building for a sense of the spiritual.
    • Transparency – a structure is both decorative and structural at the same time.
    • Hieratic Scale – the positioning and relative size in figures in sculpture meant to emphasize their relative importance or existence in the order of things.
    • Being vs. Becoming – the spiritual (being, as in the statue of Jesus on the door jamb) versus the temporal (becoming, as in the spear-holder of ancient Greece).
    • Anagogical Form – a medieval form that seeks to speak to the mystical and miraculous. Art doesn’t have to appear real but does have to speak to a higher form to see God (e.g., stained-glass windows).
  • Early Renaissance Painting
    • Linear perspective – a system that allows artists to think about placing figures in space based on a vanishing point (becomes essentially canonical for four centuries).
    • Alberti – codifies this and many other parts of this system in representational art.
    • Chiaroscuro – the use of heavy contrast between light and dark.
    • Humanism – the centering of the individual using secular Greek and Roman texts.
  • Raphael and the Human Figure (portaits and the Stanza della Segnatura)
    • Julius II – sponsor of many works of religious art, including St. Peter’s Basilica, the Stanza della Segnatura, and many other works by Raphael (and Michelangelo).
    • High Renaissance – pinnacle of the systems described by Alberti.
    • Portraiture – for the first time in the Renaissance, artists were not just painting the aristocracy but the merchant class as well.
    • Iconography – the practice of understanding symbolic meaning on multiple levels.
    • Rebirth of Classical Antiquity
  • Michelangelo
    • Sculptural Theory of Subtraction – when the removal of material from a larger whole is the central aspect to creating a work of art.
    • Concetto – the idea leading to a work of art.
    • Neoplatonism – a religion and philosophical school of thought that sought to combine Platonic philosophy with Christian dogma. Michelangelo was a strong adherent.
  • Bernini
    • Baroque – the period of art subsequent and responding to Renaissance ideas. Emphasized passion, drama, and psychology.
    • Pictorialism – using material to tell a story.
    • Paragone – is painting or sculpture or literature better? Bernini and other Baroque artists are explicitly responding to this question.
    • Spectacle – when a work is designed for public attention and consumption.
    • Gesamtkunstwerk – the total work of art (e.g. the Passion of St. Theresa).

The Second Half of the Course

  • Northern Renaissance Painting
    • Empirical Perspective and Intense Observation – van Eyck and Bosch aren’t aware of the scientific perspective work done by their Italian counterparts, so they use intense observation to closely replicate a scene. This is called “empirical perspective” because it arrives at, rather than starts from, first principles.
    • Oil Paint – a new material allows for greater control of form.
    • Panorama – larger landscapes come to greater fruition when Bruegel tackles them.
    • Intricate Allegory and Irony – painting starts to incorporate narrative and parable.
    • Merchant Class – quickly becomes a large part of artists’ patronage.
    • Distribution – prints and the printing press change the way art is consumed and by whom it is consumed.
  • Bruegel
    • Protestant Reformation – the needs of the church are different (no more decorative objects in churches, because that’s worship of false idols!), so painting becomes much more secular.
    • Rise of the Merchant Class – again, who is purchasing the art changes its subject.
    • Urbanism – art begins centering not around cities where the church is powerful but around cities that have a strong mercantile economy.
    • Allegory – when artists are aware of what’s happening in literature (Erasmus’ In Praise of Folly) and respond to it.
    • Humanism – Bruegel’s work expresses a common humanity – everyone can relate to these images!
    • Landscape – Bruegel becomes the first master of the landscape genre, in which there is little-to-no emphasis on human life
    • Peasantry and Stereotype – the peasant class is the topic of much of Bruegel’s work – is he celebrating them or mocking them?
  • Rembrandt (cf. Bernini and the Baroque)
    • Wolfflinian terms – linear to painterly, plane to recession, closed to open, multiplicity to unity, absolute clarity to relative clarity.
    • Realism – images of “real life;” Rembrandt dresses up and paints the local populace to practice and show off his skills.
    • Theatricality – there’s an element of performance to Rembrandt’s work, his portraiture especially.
    • Portraiture – there’s a lot we can get out of Rembrandt’s very deliberate portraiture – self, duo, and group. Hands and facial expressions are a great place to start.
    • The Nude – Berger’s dichotomy between naked and nude.
    • Etching, Engraving, and Printing – objects Rembrandt creates and replicates are widely distributed, each with small changes that reflect the artist’s hand and his experimentation with form.
  • Goya
    • The Enlightenment and Romanticism – Goya is often seen as the painter of the Enlightenment, but a more accurate characterization of him would be as the painter who bridges the gap between the Enlightenment and Romanticism, and questions both.
    • Spanish Cultural Moment – crucial to understanding Goya’s work. Look at the difference between his court portraits of the royal family and his history paintings (also commissioned by the Spanish government).
    • Satire and Irony – incorporated into Los Caprichos, but mostly absent from The Disasters of War.
    • Printing and Reproduction – Los Caprichos, later shut down by the Inquisition, sought to poke fun at many aspects of society
    • Fantasy and Imagination – the first time (apart from Bosch) a major artist incorporates these elements into his body of work. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters is a key example of this.
    • History Painting – many aspects of the historical moment, as well as a focus on emotional happenings, are incorporated into the Second of May and the Third of May – in short as electricity as well as emotion.
    • Pueblo/Illustrado/Maha – Goya and the Spanish court adopt many aspects of lower-class culture (including fashion) in an attempt to appear connected with the people.
  • Manet
    • The Academy & the Salon – quasi-public forces that dominated French art for decades, requiring strict adherence to what were believed to be high standards.
    • Haussmanization and the Second Empire – the demolishment and rebuilding of Paris under Napoleon III and Haussman allowed for the rise of cafe culture, spectacle, and the mixing of the classes.
    • Flaneur – a stroller, someone who would walk around Paris simply to see and be seen, with a sense of alienation.
    • Positivism – a philosophical system that believes that technological innovation results, in the end, in progress for the betterment of the human condition.
    • Optical Consumption – the understanding of what we see as spectacle, sponsoring an awareness of the world around us as foreign and other.
  • Early Monet
    • The Impressionist Eye – the goal of painting what we actually see as opposed to what we believe we should see. Also worth noting: Charles Baudelaire calls artists to “paint modern life.”
    • Optical – two-dimensional rejection/unlearning of what are understood as the three-dimensional tricks of the trade. The subject of the painting is still recognizable, but the shift towards the optical means we see paintings (and reality) as a two-dimensional sphere, not as mirrors reflecting a three-dimensional world.
    • Leisure and the Bourgeois – part of the modern moment, in which generally middle-class Parisians would leave the city and enjoy otium in the countryside.
    • Photography – because the invention of the camera could make the absent present, previously thought to be the purpose of painting, painting needed to do something different.
    • Japonisme – Japanese prints believed by French and other modern artists to be a new way of understanding the world, as the Eastern tradition developed without the representational techniques of the Western canon.
  • Late Monet
    • Quasi Scientific Series – playing with atmosphere, light, time of day (these, not necessarily the scene itself, are the subject of the painting).
    • Neo-Impressionism – Seurat and others have a new color theory, and they use tension between colors to implement a visual and emotional response to the painting itself (as opposed to its content).
    • Dematerialization – moving further away from capturing the subject matter, to dematerializing forms as seen visually.
    • Abstraction – in art, abstraction is the opposite of the mimetic, because its project is not to represent. It attempts to convey something that can’t simply be copied because it’s wholly in the artist’s mind.
  • Picasso
    • The Gisante – in the Demoiselles d’Avignon, the gisante is lying down, not standing – Steinberg gets this because he looks at how the painting evolves over several drafts
    • Sexuality and Self-Discovery – originally called the “Brothel of Avignon,” this work and others by Picasso respond to and incorporate Freudian psychoanalysis, attempting to understand sex as a means towards self-discovery and self-actualization.
    • Modernism – modernization is advancements in technology. Modernity is an era characterized by a questioning of norms and practices, especially in the arts – but which happens at the same time as industrialization, urbanization, secularization, individualism, and positivism. Modernism is a philosophical and artistic system that sought to find truth in the everyday and other sources commonly overlooked in the pre-Enlightenment and pre-Romantic era.
    • Fauve – literally a “wild beast,” a fauve was a member of the “fauvist” movement, headed by Matisse and Braque, at the beginning of the 20th century, in which color and form became one.
    • Form and Content – form is the style, techniques, media, and design elements in a work of art; its content is what is being depicted and how that and the form are interpreted.
    • Cubism and Deconstruction – both analytic and synthetic, cubism was a short-lived artistic movement that sought to deconstruct and reconstruct visual forms and structures in an abstract way.
    • Re-Presenting vs. Representing – the idea of representing physical reality versus presenting a work completely anew.
    • Anti-Imitation – Picasso and others avoided imitating
    • Spatial Relativity
    • Primitivism
    • Freedom of Exploration
    • Psychological Investigation
    • Surrealism
    • Political Commentary
  • Pollock and Warhol
    • Gestural Automatism – psychological state induced by allowing the body to involved with releasing inner demons (from Jungian psychoanalysis, which Pollock underwent) – essentially a stream of consciousness in physical form.
    • Action Painting – moving around a canvas (notably, on the floor – not on an easel) and using a variety of techniques while in the process of painting it.
    • Abstract Expressionism – in abstract expressionism, the act (of expressing) more important than the work (the end result of that act) itself.
    • Clement Greenberg – an art critic who loved Pollock and disliked Warhol.
    • Pop Art – an artistic movement interested in incorporating elements of popular culture into works of art, challenging traditional standards of what constitutes fine art.
    • Mechanical Reproduction – the reproduction of images in and from sources going into art, the reproduction of images in the process of making that art (silk screen printing), and the subsequent reproduction of those works of art.
    • Commodity Culture – a culture in which everything (up to and including intangibles like beauty, happiness, and love) is bought or sold and has a monetary value. Mocked/celebrated by artists who believed commodification had proceeded in Western culture to the point of absurdity.
    • Celebrity Obsession – a culture in which individuals and society are intrigued by, enamored with, and obsessed with celebrity figures (sometimes for no discernible reason), often proceeding to the point of commodification. Marilyn Monroe can be bought or sold just like cans of tomato soup.
    • Labels, Logos, Advertising, Consumerism – the incorporation of these elements into works is a key characteristic of pop art.
    • Death and Violence – the use of death and violence as compelling spectacle (car crashes, assassinations, suicides, capital punishment, etc.) for the viewer.
    • Appropriation – the act of reusing or re-presenting the artistic and/or cultural characteristics of the other with little-to-no transformation or original additions, and (problematically) often without due credit or acknowledgement.

Have a study guide of your own that you want to share? Email it to us at submissions@columbialion.com.

It’s that time of the year again — the air is colder, holiday carols blast from Ferris, and you are on your 11th hour sitting Butler, staring mindlessly out the window, with very little to show for it. Sound familiar? Even though you’re hardworking and want to do well on finals, studying doesn’t seem to be getting you anywhere. It happens to the best of us, because many of the ways students study don’t line up with how humans actually learn. Luckily, neuroscience has made major progress in figuring out how we learn — so you can hack your brain to study smarter.

1. Stop re-reading your textbook While it might seem like the obvious way to learn information, re-reading the textbook is actually one of the worst ways to learn if you’ve already read it. Textbooks are full of extraneous information that take lots of time to get through, so you’re wasting precious storage space on unnecessary information. It’s also incredibly difficult to focus on ‘passive’ learning of information, such as listening to a lecture or even reading a textbook — your brain has a tendency to revert to its ‘default-mode’ network and your mind wanders. If you haven’t read the textbook yet read it once while simultaneously making a study guide. Constantly ask yourself if the information is relevant, testable, and related to what was said in lecture. Write the important points down in your study guide to be referenced later.

2. Instead, study by re-creating the exam condition — Again and again, education research has found that constantly testing yourself is a much better way of learning than re-reading material. If your professor provides a practice exam, take it under real-exam conditions. The closer you are to taking a real exam, the more your episodic memory, powered by your hippocampus, can easily recall those memories on test day. After you take your practice exam and you’re reviewing your wrong answers, take the time to learn why you were wrong and focus on more practice problems that specifically test the troublesome concept. If you don’t have a practice exam provided or your upcoming exam is heavily essay-based, try coming up with practice problems/prompts for yourself. By becoming the test-maker, it’s easier to see what material lends itself well to making questions, and helps you to focus your studying on the low-hanging fruit that will likely make an appearance on an exam.

3. Study with friends/classmates — This one seems counterintuitive, as many nights spent alone in the libraries by all of us will attest. However, it’s one of the most powerful ways to enhance memory recall. Your brain is wired to prioritize social activity since we evolved as cooperative creatures. Set up a study session with someone else in the class, preferably two other people. Quiz each other on the material, asking each other the hardest questions you can come up with. Make your partners explain the entire concept through. When you have to interact with another person, your brain is more engaged and those memories will be ‘tagged’ with the importance of the interaction, leading to better long-term memory. As a bonus, being forced to explain material to someone else helps you to recognize weak points that you might have been skimmed over otherwise.

4. ‘Tell a story’ of the material to make it emotional — This works best when you’re telling it to someone else, but can also work alone. Human memory is predisposed to narratives; it’s why storytelling was one of our earliest art forms. Correspondingly, we remember best when the material has emotional significance. For some disciplines this may be easier than others, but it’s still possible to ascribe motivation to, for example, the movement of molecules. If you can personify information, your brain will ascribe it more significance and you’ll remember more of it.

5. Do one thing at a time — We all think we’re fantastic multitaskers, but neuroscience has shown that we’re actually horrible at it. On average, it takes you anywhere between 10-25 minutes to get back into an optimal ‘flow’ after a distraction. Switching rapidly between classes means you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to activate your executive attention network, and means you’ll spend more time staring blankly at information you’re not actually understanding. If you need the extra boost, apps like SelfControl for Mac, Freedom for PC, and Forest for both Android and Apple phones will help force you away from distractions. Find what distracts you most, whether it be Facebook, Instagram, or messaging friends, and block access to those activities during study blocks. Your brain will thank you.

6. Take a 15-30 minute study break every 1.5 hours — Attentional control research has found that people can’t really focus for more than 1.5 hours in a row without a break. Set an app like the aforementioned SelfControl for 1.5 hours, and sit down to work just for that time. It’s less daunting than realizing you have 8 plus hours of studying to do in one day, and by delineating specific times for work and breaks, you’ll be more productive overall.

7. Study more than one thing per day, and then repeat it — Reactivation of a memory is essential for long-term consolidation, as it lets your brain know that information is important and needs to be held on to. Those 1.5 hour ‘focus’ blocks provide natural breaks to switch topics. Where those switches happen and after how many blocks is up to you and your personal exam schedule, but switching it up helps to refocus your brain by exposing it to novel content. As a bonus, by studying for three smaller blocks on three days in a row before an exam, you’ll have enough exposure to do significantly better than if you studied for the same amount all on one day.

8. A little stress is good, a lot will hurt you — Much has been said about the ‘stress culture’ that permeates this campus, but being constantly stressed out has extraordinarily negative effects on not only your health, but also your ability to remember anything. Chronic stress has been shown to actually kill off the very neurons in your hippocampus you need to store and retrieve information, meaning the longer you’re stressed about an exam, the worse you’re going to do on it. Short periods of acute stress can actually help your brain remember information, because evolutionarily, if an event might cause you harm, it makes sense to remember what that event was. In an exam context, feeling worried about an upcoming exam can be a potent motivator of helpful study behavior, but feeling full-on panicked can be a detractor. Use those 30 minute breaks to do something that brings you joy, instead of  just mindlessly scrolling through the internet. Chat with a friend, meditate, watch a short TV show — it doesn’t matter what your happy activity is, just don’t forget to do it.

9. Get at least five hours of sleep between studying and taking the exam — I know that saying to sleep more is obvious advice, but the science here specifically for learning is the strongest. You need to sleep to consolidate that fragile, newly learned information into declarative memory, which lets you actually access that content when you need it. Five hours is the bare minimum you can get away with, because your brain will go through at least one sleep cycle in five hours. Optimally, you want to aim for at least seven. Your brain uses that crucial time offline from sensory experiences to make connections among all the new information you learned and store what’s most important, making recall that much easier on exam day.

10. Don’t change your routine on exam day — Whenever you usually wake up, whatever you usually eat for breakfast, if you drink a cup of coffee in the morning, try your best to leave all those mundane factors unchanged. Altering routine is one of the biggest sources of stress in animals, and floods your brain with the stress hormones that damage your memory neurons — not what you want before an exam. Give yourself at least 10 minutes before the exam to center yourself, and try to be as calm as you can when you’re taking your test. Stress will suppress your ability to access a lot of information, because your body thinks it’s under attack. Taking the time to calm down before or even during an exam will be much more valuable in the long run than an extra 10 minutes speed-reading notes.

Lion Guides: Literature Humanities Review

We here at the Lion understand that this is a hectic week for you leading up to Fall Break. Two or three midterms? A couple of papers? We truly feel your struggle. Thus, to take a little load off your shoulders and maybe grant you an extra hour or so of sleep, we took the liberty of compiling various study guides filled with A1 content. Hopefully, this will make your cramming a breeze (like the one Iphigenia was sacrificed for). Good luck: may the odds be ever in your favor.

The Lion team would like to credit Ryan Mandelbaum, Michelle Vallejo, and Constance Boozer for putting together this comprehensive review guide.

NOTE: Some texts such as, Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon are not included.

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I need help.

When combined, these three simple words create one powerful phrase. Yet, one could count the number of times they have heard Columbia students say this phrase on one hand. And that’s a problem.

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As we reach the end of the semester and the start of finals, The Lion team wanted to share some recent submissions we’ve seen.

Orgo Night 

One of Columbia’s more controversial events, the Columbia University Marching Band’s Orgo Night takes place in Butler 209 at 11:59PM on 12/16. During the event, the band comments and jokes about past events on campus while helping students destress through their performances.

To get ready for the event, check out their promotional video here and advertisements below.

Fall 2015 Orgo Night Poster

Fall 2015 Orgo Night Poster

 

In other Orgo news, Kevin Chiu (SEAS ’17) along with Helen Chen (CC ’17), Rebecca Gellman (CC ’17) , and Sid Perkins (SEAS ’17) created a video for every student out there studying for their Orgo Finals.

Only 13 days until the end of the semester. Good luck with finals!

Want to share some of your group’s upcoming events on campus? Send us an email at submissions@columbialion.com