BA Art History and History

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Rococo to Now: Artworks in History

Course unit fact file
Unit code SALC10042
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course unit uses in-depth analyses of individual artworks to introduce students to key methods and concepts of art historical understanding. Each lecture is focused on the detailed exposition of one artwork and the critical debates surrounding its interpretation. The lectures as a whole are arranged chronologically from the 18th century to the present, covering art produced around the globe. The course unit is neither the study of a canon nor a traditional survey of art history, although it will reflect upon both. It examines some well-known artworks of the past alongside others that have been considered marginal or have been neglected. Two things are key: that the artworks in focus 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 aim of the course unit is to provide students with a broad chronological and methodological armature for their study of art history in other course units. Accordingly, the lectures and seminars will explore skills of visual analysis, engage with critical issues of historical interpretation (style, period, school, movement, development etc.), and help students develop a theoretical toolkit for approaching the study of art history.



‘Rococo to Now: Artworks in History ’ aims –

  • To introduce students to a rich and varied range of artworks (and works of architecture) across the period from the mid-eighteenth century to the present.
  • 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.


Possible lectures may include:

  • William Hogarth, Marriage A-la-Mode, 1743-1745  
  • Jean-Honoré Fragonard, The Swing, 1767
  • Angelica Kauffman, The Artist hesitating between the Arts of Music and Painting, 1794
  • Francisco Goya, Los caprichos, 1797-1798  
  • William Blake, The Spiritual Form of Pitt, c1805  
  • Barry and Pugin, Houses of Parliament, 1836-1870  
  • Congolese minkisi minkondi, c.19th  
  • Berthe Morisot, The Cradle, 1872
  • Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, At the Moulin Rouge, 1892-5  
  • Kazimir Malevich, Black Square, 1913
  • Duchamp, Fountain, 1917
  • Gaganendranath Tagore, Jagadish Chandra Bose Demonstrating His New Apparatus, 1925
  • Meret Oppenheim, Object, 1936  
  • Le Corbusier, Villa Savoie, 1928-31  
  • Jackson Pollock, Autumn Rhythm, 1950    
  • James Rosenquist, F-111, 1964-65  
  • Hélio Oiticica, Barracão  2, 1970
  • Mrinalini Mukherjee, ‘Mrinalini Mukherjee putting final touches …’, 1977
  • Mary Kelly, Post-Partum Document, 1973-79  
  • Nasreen Mohamedi, Untitled, 1990  
  • Trevor Paglen, Autonomy Cube, 2014 

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.

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 

Employability skills

To work alone and collaboratively Meet deadlines and take responsibility for one¿s own work Express ideas clearly in written and spoken form Use IT resources for research and communication

Assessment methods

Assessment taskFormative or SummativeLengthWeighing within unit (if relevant)
Essay plan with indicative bibliographyFormative500 words excluding bibliography0%
EssaySummative1300 words40%
ExamSummative2.5 hours/1700 words60%


Feedback methods

Feedback methodFormative or Summative
Written feedback on literature reviewSummative
Written feedback on essaySummative
One-to-one feedback during consultation hour/by appointmentFormative
Examination feedback (on request)N/A.


Recommended reading

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:

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

Bell, Julian, Mirror of the World: a new history of art, London, 2007.

Chadwick, Whitney, Women, Art and Society, London, 1990.

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 and New York, 2006.

Gombrich, Ernst, ‘The Renaissance Conception of Artistic Progress and its Consequences’ in Ernst Gombrich, Norm and Form, London, 1966.

Harrison, Charles, An Introduction to Art, New Haven, 2009.

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, London and New York, 1992.

Pooke, Grant, and Diana Newall, Art History: the basics, London and New York, 2008.  


Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Luke Skrebowski Unit coordinator

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