Critical Writing in Art

This course is part of the programme
Bachelor's study programme Cultural history (1st level)

Objectives and competences

  • To present the historical development and the past and especially the current global trends in critical writing;
  • to present Slovenian critical writing and relevant media for it;
  • to present the writing tools, concepts and approaches that can be used to develop the skills of analytical and critical consideration and in-depth writing of critical texts;
  • to present concepts and models that enable the evaluation of works of art;
  • to discuss the practical use of various elements of critical writing in the core areas of artistic production, from performing and visual arts to music and literature;
  • to explain the basics of stylistic analysis of journalistic writing (coherence and cohesion on the examples of various texts);
  • to become familiar with writing styles within various genres and within the core types of contemporary media.


Completion of first-year requirements.


The course presents the fundamental characteristics of critical writing and the reception and evaluation of artistic and cultural creation. The course aims to present the practice of critical writing in all its breadth and complexity, from learning to monitor artistic and cultural work, learning about the basic thematic starting points of artistic fields, to the actual writing of critical texts, which is connected to the learning about the editorial practices within the existing media, especially in the Slovenian area. The course is practically oriented, encouraging participation in cultural events and cooperation with various experts in the field of cultural production and publishing. The course tries to present equally all the central areas of artistic production, from performance and visual arts to music and literature.

The course consists of four sections:

  1. History and concepts:
    Students learn about the importance of critical writing in the history of modern and contemporary art, get to know examples of critical writing and schools of critical writing in various global publications, and learn about the rich Slovenian practice in this field.

  2. Analytical set:
    Students learn about the basic parameters of artistic creation; they practice observing and judging works of art, perceiving artistic intent in a specific cultural context, and understanding contemporary artistic language.

  3. Synthetic assembly:
    Students learn the practice of critical writing according to the medium of publication, their structure, length and purpose, and they also get to know the specifics of each artistic field. Students acquire the ability to form an argumentation in critical writing: setting conclusions, arguments and premises and checking them.

  4. Media publications:
    In the final part, students face the media and editorial practices. They are guided through the process from the first meeting with the artwork, through the design of the critical text, all the way to writing, cooperation with the editorial staff of the individual media and publication, which will give them an insight into modern media practice and editorial work, as well as the criteria of quality writing for the purpose of public publication.

Intended learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding:

  • The student knows the basic concepts and practices of critical writing, the artistic and cultural evaluation and their communication in various media.
  • The student knows and critically evaluates contemporary trends in cultural production and knows how to place them on a global level and reflect them in a historical or developmental perspective.
  • The student develops an attitude towards culture and the creative sector and cultivates the need for new knowledge in the field of contemporary artistic production, while being aware of the connection between the level of artistic performance and its intellectual reception.
  • The student is aware of the importance of appropriate contextualization of a creative idea in the cultural-production environment and social-historical reality, as well as the importance of communicating it with the public and other stakeholders.
  • The student is familiar with writing practices, knows media work and editorial practices that concern critical writing, and has an overview of various forms of criticism in modern print and digital media.
  • The student acquires basic knowledge for initial research work in the field of art theory, while being aware of the necessity of an interdisciplinary approach.


  • The student develops the ability to communicate and improves the skills of analytical thinking and independent, reflective analysis of cultural phenomena.

  • The student independently creates a critical text in at least one of the central areas of artistic production, from performance and visual arts to music and literature. In doing so, he is able to observe the work of art and reflect on it at the level of the spoken and written product also being aware of his own limitations and responsibilities as an author.


  • Houston, Kerr, 2012: An Introduction to Art Criticism. Histories, Strategies, Voices. Boston: Pearson.
  • Earnest, Jarrett, 2018: What it Means to Write About Art. Interviews with art critics. Talin: David Zwirner Books. Catalogue
  • Barrett, Terry, 2017: Why Is That Art? Aesthetics and Criticism of Contemporary Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Catalogue
  • Frost, Charlotte, 2019: Art Criticism Online, A History. Canterbury: Gylphi Limited. Catalogue
  • Kosovel, Miha (ur.), 2017: Razpotja. Kritika 24. E-version
  • Šega, Drago, 2004: Literarna kritika: Termin, geneza, teorija. Ljubljana: ZRC SAZU. Catalogue
  • Dolinar, Darko, 2001: Literarna veda in kritika. Slovenska književnost, 3. Ljubljana: DZS. 509-569. Catalogue
  • Foucault, Michel, 2007: What is Critique? Sylvère Lotringer and Lysa Hochroth (Eds.): The Politics of Truth. Cambridge and London: Semiotext(e). 41–82. E-version
  • Butler, Judith, 2001: What is Critique? An Essay on Foucault’s Virtue. E-version


Method (written exam, oral
tasks, project):

Active participation in course activities (meetings, ongoing tasks) – 20 %

Preparation of the project task (a piece of critical writing) – 30 %

Presentation of the written piece with oral examination of subject-specific knowledge – 50 %

Lecturer's references

Asst. prof. dr. Ivana Zajc works at the School of Humanities and the Research Centre for the Humanities of the University of Nova Gorica, where she deals with modern and older literature and digital humanities. She presents her research findings in various scientific journals and at conferences in Slovenia and abroad, and in 2023 she published a scientific monograph. For years she has been publishing critics of literary and theatrical works in various Slovenian media, e.g. on RTV Slovenija, Kritika portal and Sodobnost.

Selected reference:

Zajc, Ivana, 2016: Sodobne spremembe didaskalij: primer besedil Simone Semenič. Jezik in slovstvo 61/3–4. 151–162, 168.

Zajc, Ivana, 2019: Elementi monodrame in avtobiografskosti v besedilih Simone Semenič: vidik računalniške stilometrije. Amfiteater: revija za teorijo scenskih umetnosti 7/2. 80–98.

Zajc, Ivana, 2019: Literarna zmožnost kultiviranega bralca in Evropski literarni okvir. Jezik in slovstvo 64/3–4. 57–67, 156.

Zajc, Ivana, 2022: Slovene teachers' opinions on teaching literature in grammar schools. Slovene studies: journal of the Society for Slovene Studies 44/1. 25–42.

Zajc, Ivana, 2022: Zgodovina utišanih glasov. portal slovenskega gledališča. 16. dec. 2022.

Zajc, Ivana, 2022: Špela Frlic: Bleščivka. Sodobnost 86/9. 1311–1313.

Zajc, Ivana, 2023: Becoming a woman writer: the self-representations in the letters of woman writers of the Slovene moderna. Literaturna misʺl 66/2. 139–161.

Zajc, Ivana, 2023: Scoring of essays in L1 in the secondary school-leaving exam. Pedagoška obzorja: časopis za didaktiko in metodiko 38/1. 19–31.

Zajc, Ivana, 2023: Kaj je literarna zmožnost in kako jo preverjamo z maturitetnim esejem. Nova Gorica: Založba Univerze v Novi Gorici.