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BA Film Studies and History of Art / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
The Global Renaissance

Unit code AHCP30552
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Arts, Languages and Cultures
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module explores the ‘Global Renaissance’, focusing on Europe's relations with Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East in the early era of global expansion and colonisation. It will take into consideration the vast amount of recent literature on cross-cultural exchange in the 15th and 16th centuries, and will also cover some 17th century topics.  The unit explores what the visual arts and material culture as a whole can tell us about the mobility of ideas, the growth of global trade, and cultural/religious conflict in this era of increasing internationalism. We consider these issues primarily from the European perception of an expanding world, engaging with the expansion of the slave trade and racialist discourses. The theme of globalism is addressed though the lens of painting, sculpture, and architecture, as well as maps, textiles, and ceramics. Extensive consideration is given to the medium of print and its role in shaping cultural encounters. Several case studies focus on the histories of objects in Manchester collections and the politics of display and restitution.


None, although students who have completed AHVS20202, Renaissance and Discovery, or any other module pertaining to the early modern period, will derive even greater enrichment from this module.


  • To provide a framework for understanding of the Renaissance as a global phenomenon.
  • To introduce students to specific instances of cross-cultural exchange with Africa, Asia, the Americas, and the Islamic world, all of which shaped European art and culture in the early modern period.
  • To introduce students to the concept of globalism as it pertains to art and visual culture in the early modern period.
  • To investigate the mobility of artists and artistic media in the early modern period.
  • To explore the role of print in mediating and constructing cross-cultural encounters.
  • To enrich analysis of early modern exchange by engaging with ethnography and concepts of the other.
  • To understand how the nature of global art has shaped and continues to shape the discipline of art history.

Learning outcomes



Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • Explain the global nature of the period commonly referred to as the Renaissance.
  • Cite specific examples in which European visual culture was shaped through its encounter with other cultures.
  • Develop a framework for understanding how artistic media, especially the print, mediated and constructed European encounters with other cultures.
  • Relate contemporary understandings of globalization to earlier phenomena.
  • Situate the study of the ‘global Renaissance’ in a broader art-historical tradition.

Intellectual skills

  • Think critically about the Renaissance within and beyond Europe’s borders.
  • Identify the materials of Renaissance art and trace their origins.
  • Read and analyse critical written sources from the early modern period. 
  • Identify and analyse the traces of mobility and encounter in works of art produced in the early modern period.
  • Engage with some of the new digital media and resources helping to shape our understanding of the early modern world.


Practical skills

  • Produce compelling visual analysis of works of art which reflect cross-cultural exchanges and encounters.
  • Identify different artistic media and explain their importance to globalisation.
  • Analyse early modern print media in relation to cross-cultural dialogue.
  • Develop analytic essays which engage with a broad scholarly literature.
  • Hone their skills at expository writing focused on cultural encounter and comparison.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Write essays which engage with cross-cultural issues.
  • Identify the materials of early modern artistic production.
  • Explain the rise of globalism in the early modern period.
  • Situate early modern European art in a global context.
  • Problematise the European focus which often dominates the study of art history.


Assessment methods

Reading journal 15%
presentation and presentation notes 25%
Final Essay 60%
Essay Plan 0%


Feedback methods

  • Weekly comments on reading journal
  • Oral feedback on presentation
  • Written feedback on essays 1 and 2
  • Additional one-to-one feedback (during consultation hour or by making an appointment)


Recommended reading

Bailey, Gauvin. Art on the Jesuit Missions in Asia and Latin America, 1542-1773. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1999.

DaCosta Kaufmann, Thomas.  Toward a Geography of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 2004

Elkins, James, ed. Is Art History Global.  New York and Milton Park: Routledge, 2007.

Mason, Peter, “From Presentation to Representation: Americana in Europe,” Journal of the History of Collections 6 (1994): 1-20.

Ulrich Pfisterer, “Origins and Principles of World Art History: 1900 (and 2000),” in World Art Studies: Exploring Concepts and Approaches, ed. K. Zijlmans and W. van Damme. Amsterdam: Valiz, 2008, pp. 69-89.

Russo, Alessandra.  The untranslatable image : a mestizo history of the arts in New Spain. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2014.

Subrahmanyam, S. “Connected histories.  Notes towards a reconfiguration of early modern Eurasia,” Modern Asian Studies 31 (1997): 735-762.


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Seminars 33
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Edward Wouk Unit coordinator

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