AP Art History


Online for the 2024-2025 School Year

Teacher: Olivia Cockley

Email: eocockley@gmail.com

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Tuition: $650 'early bird' fee/$700 after July 1

The course will begin on August 26, 2024, and will end with the AP exam in May of 2025. The specific exam date has not been released yet. 

Course description: AP Art History is a college-level course that focuses on art history and appreciation that spans prehistory to the present day and covers cultures from around the world. The majority of the course focuses on Europe and the Americas, but we will also study works from ancient Mediterranean cultures (think Greece, Rome, Egypt), Africa, Asia, the Pacific Islands, and Native American cultures.

Students will learn to analyze art visually and contextually - to identify art based on style, materials, and subject, and to identify the themes, philosophies, historical events, and social issues that affected the art of a particular era. With this in mind, we will address historical events outside of the art world to better understand the stylistic and thematic changes happening within the art world. The goal is for students to become familiar with individual works of art as well as with the overarching artistic eras and styles. I want them to feel like they are seeing an old friend when they find a familiar piece of art in a museum - to be able to identify an individual work and to place it on a mental timeline within the broader scope of history. 

Our studies will be oriented around a set of 250 works of art (The List); these align with college faculty expectations of what students should be familiar with. (This list of 250 pieces of art is standard across AP Art History classes and the AP Art History exam.) I'll also bring in art from outside The List if needed, so we certainly won't be limited to those specific 250 works! Students should expect to become very familiar with The List through memorization and analysis as well as through museum visits (virtual or in-person), online scavenger hunts, and art charades. In addition to studying art on The List, we'll discuss topics such as what art is, why humans make art, whether all art is necessarily beautiful, and whether or not creativity is an inherent aspect of being human.

We'll also cover the elements of art (form, style, materials, technique, line, composition, perspective), interpretations of art (and how to interpret art), and how to make arguments and support arguments about art. Making interpretations of specific pieces of art, and arguing for those interpretations with evidence, is an especially important of preparing for the AP exam. With this in mind, students will have ample opportunities to practice their analysis skills and their argumentative essays through weekly writing assignments. We will also practice for the multiple-choice question section of the exam throughout the year.

Class structure:  Expect lots of reading, both in the textbook and in supplementary resources! Students will work mainly by reading my weekly emails that will contain course info and assignments, helpful links, and so on, and through written responses both to prompts from me and in response to each other. Ultimately, the course reading, self-driven study of art, and the writing assignments will be the most important part of the class. We will have live sessions every other week (most likely Wednesday afternoons) over Zoom, which will be recorded. These will be structured as a discussion centered around a specific topic or as a question/answer time instead of being lecture-oriented.  

Technology: Students should have access to an email account for course updates and homework assignments. They'll also need internet access, a printer/scanner, and access to Microsoft Word or Google docs. A Google account will be very helpful for document sharing and group projects. They will also need a Zoom account for live sessions - the free version is just fine. Students will receive information on how to access the class website after enrolling in the course. 

Required text: [Course textbook is being finalized; I'll notify students of the proper book upon enrollment.]

Supplementary resources: (Students are not required to purchase any of these, but they may be helpful reference materials. They are all available used online.) 

  • Barron's AP Art History by John Nici, 3rd edition or later. This has helpful practice tests, as well as review sections on major artists and artistic traditions. The AP Art History test was revised extensively in 2015, so students will want the 3rd edition or later
  • The Story of Painting by Sister Wendy Beckett
  • The Annotated Mona Lisa by Carol Strickland
  • Arts and Ideas by William Fleming (Supplementary reading only. No need to purchase - I'll scan and send required sections via email.)


Instructor Bio:

I recently completed an MLitt. in Environmental History (with honors) at the University of St. Andrews and graduated with high honors from Patrick Henry College in 2018, where I studied History. In addition, I am a PHAA homeschool graduate and have very fond memories of taking Mrs. Richman's APUSH class and Mrs. Inspektor's AP English Literature class in high school. I was homeschooled K-12, with Mrs. Richman as my evaluator for most of those years. As she can attest, much of that education focused on art and history, with weekly 'art days' where I spent my Friday mornings studying specific artists, styles, periods in art history, and the elements of art. I then put what I had learned into practice with art projects of my own. I also spent many mornings at Dickinson College's Trout Gallery art classes. Each class highlighted one of the gallery's rotating exhibits and covered topics as diverse as Dutch ceramics, African masks and tribal religion, Japanese ukiyo-e (woodblock) prints, impressionist art, and so much more! Art museums on both sides of the Atlantic have also figured into my continuing enjoyment of art; favorites include the National Gallery in London, Oxford's Bodleian Library, and the Brandywine River Museum of Art in southern Pennsylvania. 

In addition to studying art in both classes and museums, I've developed and taught an art appreciation class, which focused on a different piece of art each week as it applied to the lesson on the elements of art. The students then applied the weekly lesson through an art project that incorporated various techniques, mediums, and elements of art. Along with developing and teaching that class, I've been a substitute teacher for 2nd - 8th grades (not simultaneously!!), taught a high school 'intro to essay-writing' class, and am currently a college-level writing tutor. 

My life currently involves trying to cram as many books, writing-works-in-progress, sewing projects, hiking trails, and swing dances into my limited free time as possible - and trying to reconcile my love of fragile antiques with my love of dogs who chew things. 

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