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Module Descriptions

All modules are 30 credits and are taught in a single term.
HA970: Research in Renaissance and/or Early Modern Art/Architectural History (Autumn 2019 Topic: The tombs of the doges, dogaresse and patricians of Venice)
HA971: Research in Modern and/or Contemporary Art and Architecture (Autumn 2019 Topic: Modernity in the Historic City)
These modules aim to equip students with advanced knowledge and understanding of a specific area of study. They encourage students to develop their prior knowledge and understanding of art history at a higher level and undertake more focused and independent work. Students learn how to make effective use of primary sources, both artistic and textual, in developing and completing a research project and provide opportunities to develop research and writing skills whilst living in the city of Venice.
HA3C7 - Exhibiting the Contemporary
The aim of this module is to examine the importance of exhibitions for the interpretation of contemporary art and contemporary architecture. 'Exhibition' is here conceived as the (in principle public) time and space of 'showing' in the broadest sense. Taught in Venice through lectures, seminars and site visits, the module will involve the study of current exhibitions of contemporary art and architecture within and outside the frame of the Biennale, considered in conjunction with pertinent texts on contemporary exhibition-making, curating, and museum and exhibition history.
Special Subjects
HA2C4: East meets West: The Visual Arts in Colonial and Postcolonial India
This module examines the production and development of the visual arts in India during its (British) colonial and postcolonial periods (c.1757 to the present day). We look at the ways in which colonial encounter, conquest and knowledge were experienced and articulated through architecture, painting, sculpture and photography, as well as through spectacles such as the Delhi Durbars and Great Exhibition of 1851. The module examines and contrasts the works of British and Indian artists, considering how issues of colonialism and nationalism impacted upon various artistic genres and media, as well as upon the patronage and training of artists. Finally, we consider recent works by Indian artists in relation to issues of local/global politics, diaspora and migration, and to broader structures of the contemporary, global art market. Topics may include: colonial and courtly cities; landscape, power and exploration; native and colonial photography; Indian nationalism and the visual arts; training artists in colonial India; gender and identity in Indian art; artists of the Indian diaspora; the Kochi-Muziris biennale and the globalisation of Indian art.
HA966: Leonardo : Art and Science
Using Leonardo’s exemplary activity and output both as an artist and as a natural philosopher, this module will explain in which ways practical aspects of art making (for instance lighting, chiaroscuro, and perspective) are strictly interlinked with aesthetic notions (in particular beauty) and the investigation of nature in its multiple phenomena as carried out by Leonardo on empirical grounds. A thorough examination of Leonardo’s artistic production (paintings, drawings, sculptural and architectural designs) and of Leonardo’s observations on and description of nature (articulated in the fields of optics, anatomy, and engineering) will underground the structure of the seminars.
HA973: Setting the Scene: Architecture and the Visual Arts in Renaissance Italy
Although scholarship tends to treat architecture and the visual arts as separate, the material investigated within this module demonstrates that the two practices could be interconnected, with many artists moving fluidly between painting and building projects – most famously of all Giotto and Michelangelo. Through an analysis of the architectural imagination of Renaissance artists, the module will introduce students to key figures and works of painting, sculpture and architecture from the period, elucidating the communicative abilities of buildings and the active role they play within an image. Similarly, the study of architectural drawings will highlight the more decorative, painterly aspects of architecture, illustrating how artistic and architectural practices informed each other. Whilst the module’s main focus is on Italy, seminars on Northern European and Byzantine art will broaden the scope, giving an insight into the increasing presence of architectural settings in narrative images as an international phenomenon.
Core Module
HA936 Art History and its Methods
Students will begin by familiarising themselves with a range of theories and art-historical methods, which offer possibilities for interpreting meaning in art, or which set limits to interpretation. The module will centre on issues of methodology and will have a strong textual base. It will acquaint students with the major methodologies that have shaped the discipline of art history as an historical discipline. To this end, it will examine several theories of the history of art that either construct art as something with its own (internal) history, or make it into something determined by a wider social and political history. Other theoretical positions that may be covered include the institutional theory of art, aesthetics, theories of taste, and varieties of psychoanalysis. The module may also engage with some of the more pertinent methodological and interdisciplinary issues on the boundaries of Art History, for example Material Culture Studies.
Special Subjects
HA964: Giotto in Assisi and the Art of the Friars
This module focuses on the art, iconography and patronage of the Franciscan Order, arguably the most popular religious movement of the later middle ages. It investigates in detail how the cult of Francis of Assisi was promoted through images from its modest beginnings to the frescoed double church at Assisi painted in part by Giotto, the most important artist of late medieval Italy. Comparison is made with the other friars: Dominicans, Carmelites, Austin Hermits and the art of women religious. It will familiarise students with the culture of the late Middle Ages, and the place of imagery and art within that culture. The module aims to develop an awareness of the sources and methodologies used in the study of this period to encourage students to relate artistic production to religious belief, spiritual experience, and devotional practice in a sophisticated fashion.
HA967: The Thirties: The Arts and Society in inter-war Britain
At the heart of this module is the debate over the role of art and the artist in modern society that occurred in inter-war Britain. Rather than considering artistic developments during the period in terms of conservative artistic ideas confronted by an imported model of avant-garde practice, the module tests alternative interpretations. The Victorian tradition that linked art with civic responsibility will be connected with the modern artist’s social engagement, and is contrasted with the aestheticism of critics like Roger Fry. The growing involvement of artists and designers not just in the area of fine arts and architecture but also in advertising, industrial design and film-making will be examined in the context of the precarious economic and political conditions of the period.
HA975: The Making of Art and Self in Early Modern China
Drawing on painting, poetry, ceramics and trade art, this module will provide an introductory insight into Chinese theories and approaches to art and architecture. Furthermore, the module will expose students to an introductory sampling of primary source material and new art historical, literary and philosophical methodologies. It investigates in detail how the staging of self – be that as literati, artist or craftsman – underwent radical change during the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Moreover, it will use the encounters between East and West in the Qing dynasty to question technological developments and changes in status of craftsmanship. It will familiarise students with the culture of early modern China, and the place of imagery and art within that culture. The module aims to develop an awareness of the sources and methodologies used in the study of Chinese art to encourage students to think beyond the Western art historical tradition.