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What is Pop Art? - HOA00091I

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. James Boaden
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will look at Pop Art as an international art movement from the 1950s to the present. Pop Art remains one of the most influential artistic movements of the Twentieth Century – with much art made in our own century dependent on its strategies and ideas. This module will reconsider Pop through a number of critical frameworks which will attempt to understand its historical origins, its contemporary relevance, and its global spread.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 2 2024-25

Module aims

This module aims to develop clear and detailed thinking about the way in which art intersects with mass media and the way in which art criticism, the market and the museum work in a systematic way to frame our understanding of works of art. The way in which that system is affected by factors such as gender, sexuality, race, and class (and the intersection of those factors) will be a particular focus of study. These issues develop key skills for thinking about both the display and sale of art works.

Indicative seminars would include:

Modern Art and Mass Culture


The Everyday and Aspiration

Pop and Media

The Hard Core of Pop

Pop, Politics and Social Class

Pop Art and Gender

Queer Pop

Pop and Celebrity Culture

Module learning outcomes

Students should be able to

  • Have a grasp of the critical literature which made it possible for Pop Art to be considered as art.
  • Describe the ways in which Pop was interpreted in different ways across a range of global cultures.
  • Demonstrate how the art market and the museum played key roles in the development of the movement.
  • Articulate how and why Pop Art fundamentally altered ideas of taste within fine art criticism, display, and collecting.
  • Think carefully about the way in which mass culture intersects with fine art practice.
  • Show how the reception of Pop Art has often disrupted commonly held ideas about gender, race, sexuality, and social class.
  • Apply each of these content relevant ideas to other contemporary contexts.


Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Intermediate Assignment
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

  • Adorno, Theodor. "The Culture Industry Reconsidered" (1967). New German Critique, no. 6 (Autumn 1975).

  • Alloway, Lawrence. "The Long Front of Culture." In Imagining the Present: Context, Content, and the Role of the Critic. Edited by Richard Kalina, 61-64. London: Routledge, 2006.

  • Alonso, Rodrigo, ed. Pop Realismi e Politica: Brasile-Argentina anni Sessanta. Cinisello Balsamo: Silvana Editoriale, 2013.

  • Feldman, Hannah. From a Nation Torn: Decolonizing Art and Representation in France 1945-1962. Durham: Duke University Press, 2014.

  • Giunta, Andrea. Avant-Garde, Internationalism and Politics: Argentine Art in the 1960s. Durham: Duke University Press, 2007.

  • Diederich, Stephan and Luise Pilz, eds. Ludwig Goes Pop. Ko¨ln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Ko¨nig, 2014.

  • Greenberg, Clement. "Avant-Garde and Kitsch (1939)." In Art and Culture, 3-21. Boston: Beacon Press, 1961.

  • Huyssen, Andreas."The Cultural Politics of Pop: Reception and Critique of US Pop Art in the Federal Republic of Germany." New German Critique, no. 4 (Winter 1975): 77-97.

  • Ikegami, Hiroko. The Great Migrator: Robert Rauschenberg and the Global Rise of American Art. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2010.

  • Katzenstein, Ines, ed. Listen Here Now! Argentine Art in the 1960s: Writings of the Avant-Garde. New York: MoMA, 2004.

  • Lago, Francesca Dal. "Personal Mao: Reshaping an Icon in Contemporary Chinese Art," Art Journal 58, no. 2 (Summer 1999): 46-59.

  • Lippard, Lucy. Pop Art. London: Thames and Hudson, 1966.

  • Martin, Courtney. "They've all got Painting: Frank Bowling's Modernity and the Post 1960 Atlantic." In Afro Modern: Journeys through the Black Atlantic. Edited by Tanya Barson, 48-57. London: Tate, 2010.

  • Mercer, Kobena. "Introduction." In Pop Art and Vernacular Cultures, 7-33. Cambridge Mass.: MIT Press, 2007.

  • Minioudaki, Kalliopi, and Sid Sachs. Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958-1968. New York: Brooklyn Museum, 2010.

  • Morgan, Jessica, ed. The EY Exhibition: The World Goes Pop. London: Tate, 2015.

  • Steif, Angela, ed. Power Up: Female Pop Art. Paris: Dumont, 2010.

  • Tate, Sue. Pauline Boty: Pop Artist and Woman. Wolverhampton: Wolverhampton Art Gallery and Museums, 2013.

  • Tomii,Reiko, ed. Shinohara Pops!. New Palz: Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art, 2012.

  • Whiting, Cecile. A Taste for Pop. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

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.