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Scrolls & Serpents: The Arts of the Early Insular World - HOA00003M

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Jane Hawkes
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2023-24

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2023-24

Module aims

The art of the early Insular world (present-day Ireland and Britain) allows a vivid insight into the radical changes, economic, political and social, that marked the region between the 7th and 9th centuries. As a means of studying these issues, the course will concentrate on the applied and public arts of the Insular world, namely: metalwork, manuscripts, carved wood and ivory, as well as stone sculpture. Apart from consideration of the technologies of manufacture and motifs employed in the decoration of these various media, they will also be examined in terms of their iconographic significance, identity (regional and social), and patronage (both ecclesiastical and secular).

Module learning outcomes

  • an understanding of some of the issues involved in the cultural transmission of the visual languages current in the region;
  • an understanding of some of the complexities of imagery and meaning in early medieval religious art;
  • an awareness of the various scholarly approaches to the material and the factors informing them.

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

You will receive feedback on assessed work within the timeframes set out by the University - please check the Guide to Assessment, Standards, Marking and Feedback for more information.

The purpose of feedback is to help you to improve your future work. If you do not understand your feedback or want to talk about your ideas further, you are warmly encouraged to meet your Supervisor during their Office Hours.

Indicative reading

  • Bede, A History of the English Church and People (Penguin Classics)
  • H.Mayr-Harting, The Coming of Christianity to Anglo-Saxon England (London, 1987)
  • J.Campbell (ed.), The Anglo-Saxons (London, 1982/1991)
  • J.Hawkes, The Golden Age of Northumbria (Newcastle upon Tyne, 1996)
  • D.M.Wilson, Anglo-Saxon Art from the Seventh Century (London, 1984)
  • L.Webster & J.Backhouse (eds), The Making of England: Anglo-Saxon art and culture AD 600-900 (London, 1991)
  • L. & M. De Paor, Early Christian Ireland (London, 1978)
  • S. Youngs (ed.), The Work of Angels (London, 1989)
  • J. Backhouse, The Lindisfarne Gospels (London, 1989)
  • B. Meehan, The Book of Durrow (Dublin, 1996)
  • B. Meehan, The Book of Kells: an illustrated introduction (London & N.Y., 1994)
  • R.N. Bailey, England's Earliest Sculptors (Toronto, 1996)
  • R.B. Stalley, Irish High Crosses (Dublin, 1991)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.