BA Art History and English Literature
Year of entry: 2020
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Course unit details:
Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History
|Unit level||Level 1|
|Teaching period(s)||Semester 1|
|Offered by||Art History and Visual Studies|
|Available as a free choice unit?||Yes|
The course uses in-depth analyses of individual artworks (or works of architecture) to introduce students to the methods, concepts and problems of art historical understanding.
Each lecture is focused on the detailed exposition of one artwork (or work of architecture), and the lectures as a whole are arranged chronologically across a period mainly from the Middle Ages to c. 1700, but also including some artworks from before this period. The course is neither the study of a canon nor a traditional survey of art history, although it will reflect upon both. It selects not only some of the great and unruly artworks of the past, but also some of the marginal or neglected; the low as well as the high; the juste milieu as well as the exceptional. It makes no claim at completion of coverage, indeed its focus on individual works is intended to expose and thus enable reflection on periods and areas of art not included or not usually included in surveys. Two things are key: that the artworks are used to introduce and explain foundational art historical concepts; and that the lectures centre on the problems of understanding and interpreting artworks in relation to their historical moment. An important by-product of the course is to provide students with a broad chronological armature for their study of art history in other courses. Accordingly the lectures will use artworks to discuss issues of historical location (style, period, school, movement, development etc).
‘Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History ’ aims –
- To introduce students to a rich and varied range of artworks (and works of architecture) across the period from late antiquity to the present day.
- To provide students with an understanding of some of the problems of locating art in historical contexts.
- To model students’ powers of description and analysis.
- To introduce key concepts for the historical understanding of artworks.
By the end of this course students should/will be able to:
Lectures are based on individual artworks across the period from late antiquity to the present day. Lectures will change from year to year.
Possible lectures may include:
The Venus of Lespugue (c25,000 BC)
The Chigi Vase (or Olpe Chigi), Rome, Museo di Villa Giulia, 6th century B.C.
The Alexander Mosaic, Pompeii, House of the Faun, c.a 100 B.C.
Trajan’s column, Rome, 113 CE
The Pantheon, Rome, 117-126 CE
Santa Costanza, Rome, dedicated 337
The Syon Cope (1300-1320)
Giotto, Noli me tangere, Arena Chapel, Padua, circa 1305
Duccio, The Madonna of the Franciscans circa 1300
Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait, 1434
Raphael, The School of Athens, c. 1510
Michelangelo – The Last Judgement (1536-41)
Breugel – Hunters in the Snow (1565)
Anguissola – Bernardino Campo Painting Sofonisba Anguissola (c1550)
Vermeer – A Young Woman Seated at a Virginal (1670-72)
Chardin – The House of Cards (1736)
Teaching and learning methods
Lectures and small group seminars.
Knowledge and understanding
- Demonstrate an understanding of some of the basic art historical terms for describing artworks (or works of architecture)
- Locate artworks from the course in their historical context across the period.
- Explain the problems of applying the idea of a canon to art history and of organizing artworks as a survey
- Describe artworks at length, based on close observation
- Develop multi-layered explanations of art’s relation to other historical phenomena
- Write essays, both as coursework and in exams, that demonstrate a BA level 1 competence in the organization of evidence and argument
Transferable skills and personal qualities
- Take appropriate notes in lectures.
- Reflect on the qualities needed to contribute effectively in seminar discussion
|Written assignment (inc essay)||25%|
- Written feedback on group presentation
- Written feedback on coursework
- Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment)
- Examination feedback (on request)
Reading will be a combination of readings specific to the art work discussed in the lectures (which will change from year to year), and more general reading on surveys, canons, and the language of art history.
General reading as follows:
Bell, Julian. Mirror of the World, London and New York, 2010.
Elkins, James. Stories of Art, London and New York, 2002.
Gardner, Helen Louise. Gardner’s Art Through the Ages: A Global History, New York, 2009.
Gombrich, Ernst. The Story of Art (first pub. 1950), London, 2006.
Honour, Hugh and Fleming, John. A World History of Art, London, 1999.
Janson, H. W. History of Art, London, 1995.
Pointon, Marcia, History of Art: a student’s handbook, Routledge: London, 1992.
Pooke, Grant and Newall, Diana, Art History. The basics, Routledge: Abingdon, 2008.
Preziosi, Donald, The Art of Art History, Oxford University Press, 2009.
|Scheduled activity hours|
|Assessment written exam||2|
|Independent study hours|
|Mark Crinson||Unit coordinator|
Lectures: Tuesday 2pm to 3pm and Thursday 2pm to 3pm
Seminars: Wednesday 11am to 1pm or Monday 4pm to 6pm or Thursday 9am to 11am