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BA Art History and English Literature / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Rococo to Now: Artworks in History

Unit code SALC10042
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Art History and Visual Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course, which supplements ‘Ice Age to Baroque: Artworks in History’, uses in-depth analyses of individual artworks (or works of architecture) to introduce students to the methods, concepts and problems of art historical understanding.

The course can be taken after ‘Ice to Baroque: Artworks in History’ or can be taken as an individual unit.


  • To introduce students to a rich and varied range of artworks (and works of architecture) across the period from the early modern period 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.

Learning outcomes

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


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 from the early modern period to the present day). 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).

Please note that lectures will change from year to year.

Possible lectures may include:

Unknown, The marriage procession of Dara Shikoh, 1740s

Wright of Derby, A Philosopher Lecturing on the Orrery, c. 1766

Barry and Pugin, The Houses of Parliament, London, 1836-1870 

Wallis, The Death of Chatterton, 1856

Ashbee, The Soul of William Morris,c.1887

Manet, Portrait of Zola, 1868

Picasso, Guitar, 1926

Le Corbusier, Villa Savoye, Paris, 1928-31

Mies van der Rohe,  Neue Nationalgalerie, Berlin, 1968

Sherman, Untitled Film Still #6, 1977

Ai Weiwei, Sunflower Seeds 2010

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 from the early modern period to the present day.

Intellectual skills

  • 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

Practical skills

  • 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

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 25%
Oral assessment/presentation 25%

Feedback methods

  • 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)

Recommended reading

Reading will be specific to the art work discussed in the lectures.

General reading as follows:

Arnold, Dana, Art History: A very short introduction, Oxford University Press, 2004.

Barnet, Sylvan, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, Pearson Education, 2007.

Pooke, Grant and Newall, Diana, Art History. The basics, Abingdon, 2008.  

Preziosi, Donald, The Art of Art History, Oxford University Press, 2009.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
External visits 4
Lectures 22
Seminars 12
Independent study hours
Independent study 162

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Anthony Gerbino Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Semester 2

Lectures: Tuesday 5pm to 6pm and Thursday 2pm to 3pm

Seminars: Thursday 12 noon to 2pm or Friday  1pm to 3pm or Friday 3pm to 5pm.

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