Skip to Main Content

Art History 321

A guide to library resources to support Art History 321 and the associated research assignment


Profile Photo
Chris Spilker
Christopher Spilker, MLIS
Head, Library Research Center
University of Michigan-Dearborn
Mardigian Library
ML 1260
4901 Evergreen Road, Dearborn, MI 48128-2406

List of Recommended Books

Directions for Research Term Paper

ARTH 321: Greek Art


This research term paper asks you continue your investigation of the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology artwork that you chose for your first, descriptive/formal analysis paper this semester. It grows from the careful formal description that you have done, and from your close looking and observation of the object.  


This assignment should be between 2500-3000 words, not to exceed 8 pages, not counting your Works Cited page. You must cite your sources throughout your paper as you use information from them and include a Works Cited page, all using the Chicago Manual of Style format.


In the second part of this writing assignment, I would like you to make and argument for how your artwork fits within the larger artistic, historical, and cultural contexts of the Greek world.  In order to do so, you should discuss the following things:


1.  How does your object fit into the artistic, stylistic, and technical development of that medium?  For example, if you chose a red-figure vase, how does the object fit into the development of Greek vase painting, work of different artists, etc.? To what period does your object belong, and how does it typify the tendencies (compositions, use of space, technique, etc.) of that period?


2.  How is your object like or unlike other objects in its category?  For example, if you chose a red-figure vase, how is it like or unlike other red-figure vases?  How is your panathenaic amphora like or unlike other panathenaic amphoras?  How is your torso of Aphrodite like or unlike other torsos of Aphrodite?  If you had to identify it as a particular type of Aphrodite, which type would you say it is based on evidence you found in your research?


3.  What can you say about the function of your object?  How would it have been used, and what facet of Greek culture (private entertainment, religious worship, etc.) does it represent?  Who would have used these objects in ancient Greece, where would they have been used, and how would they have been seen?


4.  What is the cultural or historical importance of your object?  What or who is being depicted, and what is the importance of that story or person/god/goddess/hero?  For example, if you chose an object that depicts Herakles, what is the myth that is being shown, and what is the cultural or historical importance of the hero Herakles in Greek culture? Or if it a representation of a non-mythical figure or deity, what might be suggested about ancient Greeks’ interests in gender, social status, foreigners, etc.?


5.  Finally, you may have spotted certain things or elements about your object that aroused your curiosity.  Whatever that element is, research it and write about it. This part of the writing assignment is for you to have the freedom to really engage with your object, to have fun with it, and to get to know it in an exciting way.  


Research requirements


Your paper must draw evidence from at least 7 scholarly sources such as books and articles in peer-reviewed journals dedicated to ancient art, archaeology, and/or history. Websites including Wikipedia or, web encyclopedias like, or museum webpages don’t count as sources for your paper. They are all guides to get you started on your own research!


Your paper must also include at least three comparanda in order to support your argument as you address the topics above in your paper. Search in the online collections of other museums such as the DIA, the Cleveland Museum of Art, Toledo Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, British Museum, etc. for artworks of the same medium, type, and period as the one you chose. Check out the video tutorial on How to Use Museum Databases in Canvas to learn how to search efficiently (nobody wants to waste precious time, right?).
Detroit Institute of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art
Toledo Museum of Art
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The British Museum


The Lib Guide for ARTH 321, which you can access via our Canvas site, has very useful tutorials and tips for research on Greek art and history! There are lists of books that I recommend as starting points for your research, and you should take advantage of them. Believe it or not, going to the library to look at books can be more time-effective than relying only on internet searches (yes, really!).

University of Michigan - Dearborn Logo
  • 4901 Evergreen Road
    Dearborn, MI 48128, USA
  • Phone: 313-593-5000
  • Contact us