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The History of Art History in Britain - HOA00097M

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  • Department: History of Art
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Luke Uglow
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This course analyses the writers and institutions which have shaped our understanding of the history of art, and analyses the development of the discipline of Art History in Britain over the past 300 years.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

The study of Art History is a relatively new discipline in the Western world, only truly emerging in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It is also often considered a continental European subject, the early pioneers being primarily Italian, French and especially German. However, in Britain, the subject has been taught and written and practiced since the early eighteenth century, and the History of Art History in this country has its own unique development and tradition.

This course analyses the writers and institutions which have shaped our understanding of the history of art, and analyses the development of the discipline of Art History in Britain over the past 300 years. From early painter-historians such as Jonathan Richardson and the emergence of the Royal Academy in the eighteenth century, to the establishment of the National Gallery and the influential criticism of writers such as John Ruskin in the nineteenth century. It will consider the importance of formalist critics such as Roger Fry or Adrian Stokes in the early twentieth century, and the impact of Émigré Art Historians from Germany after 1933 such as Nikolaus Pevsner and Ernst Gombrich. It will investigate contexts for the emergence of the so-called “New Art History” in the 1970s and 1980s, before reflecting on the state of the discipline today, particularly the new importance of global perspectives and decolonisation and the way this reflects back on Britain’s own imperial history and ideology. It is essential we discuss the history of our discipline so as to fundamentally question the practice of writing art history and evaluate the significance of art historiography for contemporary art historical discourse. 

Module learning outcomes

Subject content

  • Knowledge of the history of art history in Britain c1700 to today
  • Understanding of the institutional, methodological and theoretical development of art history

Academic and graduate skills

  • Critical reading of art historical texts from a variety of historical eras
  • Theoretical and methodological awareness of art historical discourses 
  • Reflexive historical understanding of contemporary art history

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
4000 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Feedback on summative assessment within 20 working days.

Indicative reading

  • Casid J. H., and A., D'Souza, Art History in the Wake of the Global Turn, 2014
  • Fernie, Eric, Art History and its Methods: A Critical Anthology, London: Phaidon, 1995
  • Gibson-Wood, C., Studies in the Theory of Connoisseurship from Vasari to Morelli, 1988,
  • Hatt, Michael, and Charlotte Klonk, Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2006         
  • Podro, Michael, The Critical Historians of Art, New Haven ; London : Yale University Press, 1982
  • Rees, A. L. and Borzello, F., The New Art History, 1986
  • Wood, C., A History of Art History, Princeton University Press, 2019



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.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students