The Art Syllabus

If you’ve been in university in the United States, or know anyone who has been, then you’re probably aware of some of the absurd requirements presented on course syllabi. This goes double if anyone you know was in an art class.

The Setbacks Comic Creative Team, five years after the fact and arranged by height.

For example, Brad Whitaker, one of my best friends and, a long time ago, my co-conspirator on a comic we called Setbacks (don’t look for it, it’s been swallowed by the Internet), spent a long time in art classes at MTSU. Whenever I complained about having to read, I don’t know, some obscure American author from the 19th century, he would retaliate by showing me the required items for his classes. And, of course, I drank too much coffee and created a (slightly) exaggerated version of an arts class syllabus.

I didn’t expect it to appear accurate in any way, but, according to Brad–the guy in the middle in the picture to the right–it’s not too far off. And no, I’m not certain why all of the villains in my stuff happen to have German names.

ART 322—Explorations

Dr. Freidrich Himmler

Office: 139 Art and Architecture

Office Hours: 1:30 PM – 1:35 PM.

TEXT: Explorations in Your Limits as a Human Being, 3rd Ed.—required


This course is an extremely taxing exploration of the artistic mind. In it, students will delve deep into their animal subconscious, throwing away limits that they believe they may have as a human being, only to find that—assuming the student survives—the student is more capable than previously imagined. This course will tax the abilities of the student’s physical, moral, ethical, and intellectual bounds, as well as provide an extremely rewarding experience—providing the student manages to pass the course. Evaluation in the course will take the form of cold, unfeeling criticisms at the hands of the professor, professor’s friends, art critics brought in from New York City, and Beelzebub.


By the end of the course, the successful student will learn how it feels to be brought to his or her knees at the hands of the truly cruel and heartless world. By the end of the course, the student will have:

-Produced works totaling not more than fifty separate pieces.

-Logged two hundred hours in the studio.

-Learned how to shed their mortal coil, and be able to return to their mortal coil (a part of the final examination.

-Properly handle a machete in regards to cannibalism as a form of modern art.

-Learned to succeed or die.


The student will not miss a course session. Attendance will be watched strictly by way of cameras, retina scanners, and an attendance log at the door. Failure to attend a session will result in nothing less than arson. Students, as mentioned before, must log two hundred hours in the studio outside of normal course session hours. Like lecture, your hours will be strictly observed. Remember, real artists dedicate their lives to their craft. I realize that you have other classes, but know this: I will accept no excuse for even one second below two hundred hours. As artists, you will make the studio your home, rejecting your apartments, dorm rooms, or houses. Any person lacking time spent in the studio will be held responsible for their actions. I accept no excuses, especially not a death in the family.


You will, during your studio hours, keep a journal of time spent in the studio. I expect you to recount every occurrence of your experience in the studio. Recount your feelings, emotions, and hallucinations when you are eventually turned to a sleep-deprived hulk of a human being. Pay special heed to explain your rebirth from this state. Students typically describe a room of flashing lights and fire, where they are visited by a phoenix who tells them a secret codeword. This codeword is the vocal key that will resurrect you should you perish in class. You must write this codeword in your sketchbook, failure to do so will result in the everlasting damnation of your soul. A well-kept sketchbook will serve as a future symbol of your dedication of the craft—or kindling should you fail utterly in this course, and thus, life. Failure to log events in the sketchbook will result in eighty lashes.


As mentioned before, you will spend 200 hours in the studio. In addition to this, I expect you to keep a photo-journal of your experiences in life as they reflect what you have learned in class. You are to keep this journal by way of Polaroids in legal-sized envelopes shoved underneath my office door at exactly four-thirteen in the morning every Wednesday. I will be waiting in my office, and if you do not insert a journal for the week, I will exact punishment.


Refer to the above in regards to who will be critiquing your work. You must show that you can keep up your composure in the face of harsh, possibly demonic, criticism. If you weep, you will be punished by one hundred lashes by the critic. These critiques will be undertaken at random times throughout the semester, no advance warning will be given. Keep in mind that every critic selected will have an arrest record dealing with manslaughter.


There is either a pass or fail grade in this course. I will only hand out four passes in the semester. Failing grades will result in a punishment reminiscent to a random punishment selected from Dante’s Inferno. This means that your atmosphere will be highly competitive. I will allow you to attack fellow students, but not to kill them. If you kill a student, you will be killed by the professor.


Some have called my standards “impossible.” That is a lie. Note that I will award four passing grades. Those students will have met standards not usually held by the slovenly American higher education world. Criticism of my standards will result in the student being hung upside-down until the student passes out.


I do not accept late work. Anyone who does not turn work in on time will have a limb broken.


The following is a list of suggested materials for this course:

-Glue sticks


-Fountain pens


-36-inch metal ruler

-Wood chisel of indeterminate size

-Human skull freshly dug from a local cemetery*

-King James Version of the Bible

-Four Qurans*

-A piece of Bodhidarma’s robes *

-Sheet metal


-Two tons of steel

-Orphan’s heart*

-Femur bones (50)


-Chef’s knife

-Sharpened katana

-Testicles of Pan the goat god (extra credit)

-Severed hand of a Philistine *

[NOTE: * denotes an item necessary for the third class meeting]


I will require proof that you have destroyed your cellular phone.


I will not share this information with you at the present time. Instead, I will decide what constitutes misconduct as the situation warrants it. (Or, rather, if I do not like the student based on clothing and/or penotypes.)

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