Coronavirus (Covid-19): Latest updates and information
Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Final Year Special Subjects

All modules are 30 credits and are taught in a single term.

Autumn Term

Core Module

HA3C7: Practices of Art History

This core module will introduce students to the history of the discipline of art history, examining a range of theoretical approaches from the discipline’s beginning in the early-nineteenth century to contemporary debates. In exploring questions of theory and method, the module will develop research skills, such as critical reading and evaluating evidence. Throughout the course, students will reflect on their own theoretical commitments, and consider how these will shape their dissertations.

Special Subjects

HA3B2: Deconstructing Medieval and Early-Modern Buildings

Very few historic buildings have escaped alteration over the period in which they have been in use. Changes to liturgy and to society, have required that the buildings are adapted to accommodate these changes. By studying the fabric of the buildings, reading the evidence in the structure and combining this with documentary research it is possible to build up a picture of the whole history of individual monuments. This research-based module introduces you to the subject of buildings archaeology and gives you the chance to get involved in a current research project on a local building, so that you also gain practical experience. Aspects such as building materials, documentary research, antiquarian and topographical studies, stylistic analysis and comparative studies will be evaluated as sources of information and scientific methods of analysis such as dendrochronology examined.

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.

HA3D1: Disease and Representation in the Nineteenth Century

This module will explore the ways in which disease was visually represented in nineteenth-century Britain, and how images constructed ideas about health and illness that spoke to larger issues of national identity, race, and empire. It will focus on how scientific and medical illustrations were used to disseminate medical theories during a period when the cause of certain diseases was still unknown, and how popular imagery circulated these ideas to a wider public. The module will also consider the issues raised in attempting to study and represent what were often seen as invisible and intangible causes, and how developments in scientific and print technology aided in medical investigation. Each seminar will require students to examine selected images, and read related primary source texts and secondary critical scholarship on the topic.

Spring Term

Special Subjects

HA3C1: The Lure of the Object

Why do works of art command our attention? How do they involve us in attempts to understand and find meaning? What do they require of us? This module examines these questions in relation to European and American art from the nineteenth century to the present. Readings in aesthetic theory, art history and criticism will be supported by seminars that encourage close examination of individual works and a critical engagement with the debates that accompanied them. Several trips will be scheduled in order to study examples of work first hand. By the end of the course you will have an overview of the most significant developments in art writing since the nineteenth century, and tools with which to analyse written texts and visual art. You will also be with equipped with a set of critical frameworks in which to discuss art.

HA3C3: Mannerism

The broad aim of this module is to provide the opportunity for an in-depth examination of the concept of Mannerism and the many artworks (from painting to sculpture and architecture) relating to the movement. It will focus in particular on how the notion of Mannerism was created already in the second half of the sixteenth century, and how it has been developed by modern scholarship, with both positive and negative inflections. Topics covered may include the emergence of anti-classicism in early sixteenth-century Florence, the development of art forms suitable for new kinds of court ceremonials, and the diffusion of a transnational style in Western Europe connoted as Mannerism. Artists like Rosso Fiorentino, Pontormo, Bronzino, Benvenuto Cellini and others may be studied and complex decorative schemes such as the one deployed in the Château de Fontainebleau.

HA3C9: Visual Art and Poetry

This module will explore the relationship between art and poetry from the early-twentieth century to the present, examining collaborations between artists and poets, the work of artist-poets, and poets’ responses to the visual arts. In particular, the module will attend to visual and concrete poetry, work that attempts to break down the boundary between the two kinds of art. Possible topics include: early modernism (e.g. Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams); Frank O’Hara and the New York School; concrete poetry; the significance of technologies such as typewriters, mimeographs, and xerox; performance art and performance poetry; conceptual art and conceptual poetry. Each seminar will require students to read selected poems, to examine related works of art, and to read critical or theoretical material on both. The module will also include a performance workshop, in which all students will be required both to discuss and participate in performance poetry.