HAMCM-Debates and Approaches in the History of Art and Architecture

Module Provider: Art
Number of credits: 40 [20 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Dr Paul Davies

Email: p.davies@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
During the first term, this module will introduce students to a wide range of approaches in the history of art and architecture, discussed critically within the historical context in which they originated. It will draw out strengths, shortcomings and hidden agendas of individual methodologies through the analysis of major texts. The course will cover long-established research traditions such as iconology and connoisseurship as well as Marxism, feminism and recent psychoanalytical approaches. In its second term, the module will focus on three major themes in art historical research: the artist, the patron, and institutions, such as academies and museums, that have formed art historical canons. Through historically focused studies, the course will illuminate the changing conceptions, perceptions and historical rôles (e.g., artistic and social) of these agents. It will also introduce and discuss issues of research directly related to these themes, such as patronage and gender studies.

The module aims to provide students with instruction in the current debates and approaches to the discipline of art history.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module it is expected that students will be able to:

  • identify and characterize the most important approaches in the field of art and architectural history and name their major exponents.
  • analyse texts critically in terms of their approaches
  • analyse the merits, limitations, implications and agendas of approaches in the history of art and architecture.
  • introduce, apply and assess approaches in their own course work.
  • discuss critically categories such as 'artist', 'architect', 'patron' and 'canon' and acknowledge their historicity.
  • identify and discuss research issues that relate to the changing status of the artist, patronage, or the rôle of the academies.

Additional outcomes:
Students will demonstrate skills of organization and initiative, as well as interpersonal and negotiation skills.

Outline content:
In the first term, individual classes will introduce methodological approaches in history of art and architecture in a roughly chronological order. This will include cultural history, connoisseurship and the history of style, iconology, reception theory, Marxism, feminism and semiotics. Theoretical texts and texts that apply specific approaches will be analysed in class with regard to, for example, their consistency, possible achievements and shortcomings as well as their ideological implications. Authors whose work we will discuss include Aby Warburg, Alois Riegl, Erwin Panofsky, Susan Sontag, Mieke Bal and Wolfgang Kemp. In the second term we will study historical changes affecting three central art historical categories: the artist, patron and canon through case studies. This will involve engagement with issues such as the changing status of the artist in the Renaissance and in later periods (e.g. 19th century), women artists, the changing role of the patron, and the various artistic and social functions of academies and museums from the Renaissance to the present day.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Two hours of seminars per week requiring specific preparatory research and reading; short informal lectures, structured discussion; seminar papers.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Seminars 20 20
Tutorials 4 4 2
Guided independent study 160 160 30
Total hours by term 184.00 184.00 32.00
Total hours for module 400.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Other information on summative assessment:
Coursework: two essays each of 3000 words, for assessment (one each term, by the end of the first week of the term following that to which the essay relates). The coursework mark is an average of the marks obtained for the two essays.

Formative assessment methods:
Students give two non-assessed oral presentations.

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Length of examination:

Requirements for a pass:
A mark of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Coursework that does not bear a confirmed mark of 50% or more must be resubmitted by 1 September.

Last updated: 23 April 2014

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