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Image Controversies & Iconoclasms - HOA00006I

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jeanne Nuechterlein
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module explores episodes of image debate and image destruction from the Reformation to today. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module explores episodes of image debate and image destruction from the Reformation to today. Controversy over the validity of religious images became a central theme in the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, and in recent years extremist regimes such as the Taliban and Islamic State have ordered the destruction of Buddhist, Christian and Islamic artworks. Secular art can also come under attack, as seen in the destruction of visual symbols of political power during the French Revolution, or more recent attempts to censor art perceived as offensive or obscene. This module will examine a selection of such episodes to explore the motivations driving both pro- and anti-image sentiments, asking how the roles and powers of visual imagery have changed (and endured) over the centuries.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand specific image debates and iconoclastic episodes across a broad time frame.
  • Analyze the range of arguments used for and against images in different cases.
  • Evaluate changes and consistencies in attitudes towards visual imagery.

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark Group
Essay/coursework
Image Controversies and Iconoclasms
N/A 100 A
Essay/coursework
3,000 word Assessed Essay
N/A 100 B

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark Group
Essay/coursework
Image Controversies and Iconoclasms
N/A 100 A
Essay/coursework
3,000 word Assessed Essay
N/A 100 B

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on their assessed formative work within one week.

Students will receive feedback on their assessed summative work within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

  • Stacy Boldrick and Tabitha Barber, Art Under Attack: Histories of British Iconoclasm (Tate, 2013)
  • Stacy Boldrick and Richard Clay, eds, Iconoclasm: Contested Objects, Contested Terms (Ashgate, 2007)
  • Carlos M.N. Eire, War Against the Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin (Cambridge University Press, 1986)
  • Finbarr Barry Flood, ‘Between cult and culture: Bamiyah, Islamic iconoclasm, and the museum’, Art Bulletin 84:4 (2002): 641-69
  • Dario Gamboni, The Destruction of Art: Iconoclasm and Vandalism since the French Revolution (Reaktion Books, 1997)
  • Bruno Latour and Peter Weibel, Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (MIT Press, 2002)
  • Sergiusz Michalski, The Reformation and the Visual Arts: The Protestant Image Question in Western and Eastern Europe (Routledge, 1993)
  • James Noyes, The Politics of Iconoclasm: Religion, Violence and the Culture of Image-Breaking in Christianity and Islam (I.B. Tauris, 2013)
  • Lawrence Rothfield, ed., Unsettling ‘Sensation’: Arts-Policy Lessons from the Brooklyn Museum of Art Controversy (Rutgers University Press, 2001)
  • Claire Smith et al, ’The Islamic State’s symbolic war: Da’esh’s socially mediated terrorism as a threat to cultural heritage’, Journal of Social Archaeology, 16:2 (2016): 164-88         



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring 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 by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.