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The Venice Programme: Undergraduate Study

Here are examples of topics studied during the Venice term.

Venice: Rise and Myth (medieval to early modern)

The course examines the art and architecture of Venice in the light of its unique physical, political and cultural situation. The city's links with the Byzantine empire, its status as a maritime republic and its distinctive political situation fostered a culture different from those of other Italian cities and which can be studied as a discrete entity. The relationship between art and its various contexts will be surveyed using the physical evidence of the city and its past. The influence of Venice on art in the terraferma will also be examined through, for example, study trips to Padua, Vicenza, Verona.

Modern Architecture and the Historic City

The module examines the way that modernist architects and planners were not just engaged in a wholesale rejection of tradition, but thought in various ways about the historic legacies of cities. The module is taught through lectures, seminars and site visits, in Venice and and its region – taking both urban areas as case studies to be considered in conjunction with pertinent texts about the contested legacies of architectural modernism, in issues ranging from conservation to town planning. The primary focus will be on c.1920-1970, but, when taught in conjunction with the Venice Architecture biennale, it will relate these issues to contemporary architectural practice.

Exhibiting the Contemporary

This module examines the importance of exhibition to the interpretation of contemporary art. Lectures on the history of exhibition, from the nineteenth century to the present day, will frame the rise of the Biennale as a showcase for the display of contemporary art. Nation building and national rivalry, politics and ideology, weave throughout histories of exhibition, and students will learn that the manner in which art is displayed is never neutral. This historical background will prepare them for study at the Venice Biennale. On-site seminars at the Biennale will build skills of visual analysis and foster in-depth discussion of contemporary art in its global context; close study of published writing on contemporary art will teach students to evaluate textual evidence; finally, student presentation at the Biennale will foster confidence in speaking in front of works of art. Trips to museums and exhibitions outside the parameters of the Biennale will further enrich student learning.