Sophomore Seminar Background

Sophomore Seminar (SOPHSEM 2900) is an interdisciplinary studio seminar course that is focused on mentoring by core SAIC faculty, cultivating conceptual focus in the developing portfolio, expanding critique skills, and visualizing a unique curricular pathway. Each section of Sophomore Seminar is intended to be interdisciplinary in that students with various conceptual and material interests may take any sections offered and be fully engaged by the class conversation and critique. Students will engage in activities such as extensive interdisciplinary critiques, self-reflective writing about their practice, individual and small-group advising sessions with their faculty, development of a self-designed curricular plan, and documentation of a project from sketch to advanced stage, thinking about creative decision-making and process.

Sophomore Seminar is the first course in the three-course sequence of Academic Spine courses (Sophomore Seminar, Professional Practice, and Capstone), which is required for all freshmen who began their undergraduate degrees at SAIC in Fall 2015 and after (transfer students must take Research Studio for Transfer StudentsProfessional Practice, and Capstone).

Sophomore Seminar Course Description

What are the concerns that drive one’s creative practice? How does one set the terms for its future development? Sophomore Seminar offers interdisciplinary strategies for the evaluation and communication of students’ individual practice as artists, designers, and/or scholars. Through essential readings, studio projects, and writing, students will generate narratives about how and why they make art.

Sophomore Seminar Course Learning Goals

At the conclusion of the Sophomore Seminar course, students will be able to: 

  1. Present self-motivated work of an iterative nature that demonstrates conceptual focus and technical ability as well as the beginning of a personal direction. (Linked to BFA LG 1. Example of evidence: Documentation of Practice assignment)
  2. Communicate a rationale for a self-designed curricular pathway for the third and fourth year at SAIC as well as a post-graduation goal. (Linked to BFA LGs 2, 3, 4. Example of evidence: Curricular mapping essay)
  3. Participate in a rigorous critique process in the art and design context that integrates peer-to-peer analysis as well as faculty to student feedback. (Linked to BFA LGs 2, 4. Examples of evidence: At least three critiques, including at least two large group critiques)
  4. Demonstrate the ability to think, speak, and write clearly and effectively especially in regards to the developing body of creative work (Linked to BFA LG 4. Examples of evidence: Self-reflective Essay, Documentation of Practice Written Contextualization, participation in critiques)
  5. Display an empathetic capacity to respect, understand, and evaluate work made by a wide variety of artists pursuing creative expression in a broad array of disciplines. (Linked to BFA LGs 3, 4. Examples of evidence: Self-reflective Essay, participation in critiques)

The Importance of Writing

Writing as an artist/designer/scholar is a key component of the Sophomore Seminar course. You will be exposed to different types of self-reflective writing assignments and have a minimum of two readers for at least two of the assigned papers.

Each instructor is paired with a Writing Fellow, a current graduate student, who attends class for the first few sessions, then reads the first drafts of student papers and provides feedback related to the development of a clear argument or thesis and supporting details in the essay.