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Victorian Art - HOA00023H

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Liz Prettejohn
  • Credit value: 40 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module summary

Why are Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian paintings so popular with the public, yet so problematical for academic or scholarly art historians? In this module we examine Victorian art and its critical fortunes from the date of making through to the present day.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20 to Summer Term 2019-20

Module aims

In this course, we will examine various aspects of Victorian painting, graphic art, photography, sculpture and interior decoration in relation to a wide Why are Pre-Raphaelite and Victorian paintings so popular with the public, yet so problematical for academic or scholarly art historians? In this module we examine Victorian art and its critical fortunes from the date of making through to the present day.

Each week, we shall explore in detail individual artworks by many of the principal artists and movements from the period. These might include the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, Aesthetes, British Impressionists, and Symbolists, alongside work by and representing what Stephen Marcus has referred to as the ‘Other Victorians’. 

There will be extensive discussion of both contemporary and more recent theoretical and critical literature on the subject, including debates about art, beauty, 'realism', race, class, empire, religion, science, slavery, industrialism, urbanism, gender, sexuality, and the body.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you will have acquired

  • a broad understanding of the Victorian visual arts
  • a sophisticated ability to interpret critical texts on Victorian art, both from the Victorian period itself and from more recent date
  • a sophisticated ability to interpret visual materials from the period in relation to a wide range of historical and theoretical concerns

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Coursework
N/A 90
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Oral Seminar
N/A 10

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Coursework
N/A 90

Module feedback

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

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

Indicative reading

  • For helpful overviews, see:

  • K. Bendiner, An Introduction to Victorian Painting (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1985)
  • B. Denver, The Late Victorians: Art, Design and Society 1852-1910 (London 1986) [This is a compendium of interesting primary sources relating to late Victorian art and design]
  • P. Gillett, The Victorian Painter’s World (Gloucester: Sutton, 1990), also published as Worlds of Art: Painters in Victorian Society (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1990)
  • Two books that are useful mainly for wide selections of pictures:
  • L. Lambourne, Victorian Painting (London: Phaidon Press, 1999)
  • J. Treuherz, Victorian Painting (London: Thames and Hudson, 1993)
  • More specific texts include:

  • T. Barringer, Reading the Pre-Raphaelites (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999)
  • D. Peters Corbett, The World in Paint: Modern Art and Visuality in England 1848-1914 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2004)
  • M. Droth, J. Edwards, and M. Hatt, Sculpture Victorious: Art in an Age of Invention, 1837-1901 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2014)
  • J. Edwards and I. Hart (eds), Rethinking the Interior c. 1867-1896: Aestheticism and Arts and Crafts (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2010)
  • K. McConkey, British Impressionism (Oxford: Phaidon, 1989; paperback London: Phaidon, 1998)
  • J. Marsh and P.G. Nunn, Pre-Raphaelite Women Artists (New York: Thames & Hudson, 1999)
  • L. Nead, Myths of sexuality : representations of women in Victorian Britain (Oxford: Blackwell, 1988)
  • E. Prettejohn, The Art of the Pre-Raphaelites (London: Tate, 2000)
  • E. Prettejohn, Art for Art’s Sake: Aestheticism in Victorian Painting (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007)
  • E. Prettejohn, (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Pre-Raphaelites (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012)
  • A. Smith (ed.), Exposed: The Victorian Nude (London: Tate, 2001)
  • A. Staley, The New Painting of the 1860s: Between the Pre-Raphaelites and the Aesthetic Movement (New Haven and London, 2011)
  • A. Staley, The Pre-Raphaelite Landscape (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2001)



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.