International Journal of Art & Design Education

Curricular Development in Critical Studies

Volume 12.3   1993



Thistlewood acknowledges that over the past ten to fifteen years critical studies has become established in the primary and secondary phases of art and design education. This, he notes, has been due to a small cohort of educationalists to whom he refers to as the `pioneers' of critical studies in schools. Their work has been effective to the degree that critical studies is enshrined in the National Curriculum; yet the nature of its presence in the National Curriculum suggests two things: (1) that it is a `discipline within a discipline' (it has no role outside the context of art and design), and (2) it is a servant discipline. The interests it serves are those of ‘making' or practice, but he suggests in this paper that this role should be questioned. Thistlewood argues that it may be appropriate now to consider whether critical studies may become an independent subject, studied equally for its illuminative capacity in relation to practice, or for the benefit of its own inherent knowledge systems. He notes that the history of the development of critical studies is replete with heretical moments that have given rise to productive revisions of its role. He continues by outlining the potential relationship between art and design, critical studies, photography and media studies and suggests that here is a profitable field for extensive speculation. But a prime purpose of this paper is to stimulate other equally compelling and equally extensive fields and he looks forward to a time when a curriculum heavily predicated on ‘making’ will transform to accommodate more and more ‘critiques’.

This is one of a series of papers published in Volume 12, No. 3 that originated from a seminar held in the summer of 1993 at the University of Central England, Birmingham, entitled ’Critical Studies the Next Ten Years’.