KUN2550 – Topics in Modern and Postmodern Art and Architecture

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Course content


The most prevalent word used to describe Postmodern art and architecture is “indifference.” As in our common understanding of the word, indifference is most often used by critics as a negative and judgmental term that puts forth a certain characterization, or better yet, caricature, of Postmodernism’s ambitions and achievements.

Postmodernism’s equation with indifference is meant to criticize it in terms of its:

1) embracing a condition of neutrality suggesting lack of commitment, taking shape in various forms of irony, cynicism and nihilism;

2) a moral weakness due to a general coldness, emotional distancing and a lack of affective connectivity;

3) an aesthetic and political failure that suggests it is a form of weak relativism that eschews any particular stance, position, judgment, value, or hierarchy;

4) a general passivity, inertia, or lack of will;

5) its full-scale capitulation to the tenets of capitalism in its  emphasis on a general equivalence of things, most often characterized as a leveling or flattening of existence.

This course is meant to explore a very different and more complex sense of indifference than the negative interpretation outlined above. In doing so, it will open up a different framework for thinking about art, architecture, and urbanism of the last fifty years. Throughout the course we will look at a broad range of art and architectural examples, as well as drawing upon relevant art historical, literary, theoretical, and philosophical writings on topic.

Learning outcome

After the completion of the course the student should be able to:

  • Have a more nuanced understanding of potsmodern art, architecure, and urbanism and its relationship to broader intellectual currents.
  • Have a better and more nuanced sense of how postmodern art has been characterized in relationship to modern and contemporary art.
  • Develop the ability to move supply between close attention to works of art and the kinds of ideas, words, and frameworks that we use to describe, explain, and interpret them.
  • Analyze artworks from this period using the terms and concepts presented in the course literature.
  • Identify and present the most important critical and theoretical positions in the art historical literature dealing with this period, and define the key terms and concepts in this literature.
  • Develop an ability to verbalize statements about works of art and to communicate your knowledge to others.
  • Have improved writing skills in academic English.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with KUN4550 – Topics in Modern and Postmodern Art and Architecture

The topic for Autumn 2018 is the same as Spring 2017


Autumn 2020: Teaching will follow the guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

A detailed plan for the semester will show which activities will be digital. There will not be a requirement for compulsory attendance for teaching which is done digitally, but we strongly recommend that you follow all the teaching.


This course has 27 hours of digital lectures and seminars.

This course will be conducted primarily as a seminar with class discussion, presentations, and some lectures.

Following the seminars are highly recommended. We expect students to meet prepared for classes and to participate actively.

In order to qualify to the final exam, you must Complete these compulsory assignments:

  • Compulsory attendance at seminars. There is an attendance requirement for this course; you have to be present for at least 7 out of 9 classes. There will not be a requirement for compulsory attendance for teaching which is done digitally, but we strongly recommend that you follow all the teaching.
  • Submit a preliminary draft of your term paper by a stated deadline. The preliminary draft must be at 3-4 pages.

You submit your written assignment in Canvas. You must familiarize yourself with the login and submission procedures in timely manner before the submission of assignments. 

Please note that you do not qualify for the final examination unless this compulsory requirement is fulfilled.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


The examination at KUN2550 is a semester essay.

The essay must consist of 8-10 pages (à 2300 characters without spaces, not including illustrations, notes and reference).

The assignment will be handed in using Inspera. You must familiarize yourself with the login and submission procedures in timely manner before the exam. Read more about Inspera below.

When writing a semester essay you are entitled to individual guidance by you teacher. To be eligible for this guidance you must submit a draft of your paper that meets certain requirements. More detailed information about guidance and how to submit your draft will be given by the teacher during class or in Canvas.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Examination support material

Submission in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read more about how to submit in Inspera.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Fra og med våren 2010 publiseres alle rapporter fra periodisk evaluering av emner ved IFIKK samlet på instituttets studiekvalitetssider.


Det tas forbehold om endringer.


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Facts about this course






Every autumn

Autumn 2020: Teaching will follow the guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

A detailed plan for the semester will show which activities will be digital. Also see Canvas for information about classes.


Every autumn

Teaching language