Understanding the Past- Introduction to Archaeology
What is archaeology? How do we decide where to excavate and what happens after that? How do we date our sites and finds? This module will answer these questions and many more! In this module we look at the history of the discipline and how the evidence uncovered during excavation is discovered, recorded, and analysed, and how we use this to provide evidence for human societies from prehistory to the present day. You also go ‘into the field’ with integrated fieldwork at nearby Wollaton Park where you can learn and practise new skills such as mapping and surveying earthworks and buildings.
The Archaeology of Britain
This module provides you with an overview of the archaeology of the British Isles from the earliest humans up to the industrial revolution. By focusing in Britain as a ‘time core’ we will provide you with a clear understanding of the dynamics of cultural change as well as introducing you to all the important sites and discoveries that are on your doorstep. Teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and fieldtrips. The module covers the entire story of Britain, beginning in the Palaeolithic period, ranging across Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age societies, to consider the Roman occupation, Anglo-Saxon and Viking incursions, and medieval, Tudor and modern Britain. It will reveal that, as today, the British Isles have always been cosmopolitan – a rich mix of cultures and identities that have resulted from millennia of colonisations, migrations and invasions.
Introduction to Art History I
History of Art is a broad discipline that encompasses many different approaches. This module takes as its basic premise that there is no one true history, but rather that there are various ways of approaching the past. With this in mind, we will examine key terms that have shaped the discipline of art history, in order to consider some key issues and debates that shape writing about art. The module is designed to get you thinking about how and why histories are written. Over the course of the module, we will consider broad questions, such as: What counts as art and what should be included in history of art? Should a history of art be a history of artists? What about patrons, viewers, critics, historians, and museums? How important is artist intention in defining the meaning of art? How useful are “-isms” in writing history of art? How should we understand art in relation to social, political, and economic contexts? How and why does art change? How have chronological, geographical, and gender biases affected histories of art? What makes “good” art and should we care? The module also includes weekly workshops, designed to help you develop the academic skills required to study History of Art at undergraduate level.
Introduction to Art History II
This module builds on the foundation laid in Introduction to Art History I. It examines the study and interpretation of objects by considering different forms of writing on art. Each lecture will focus on a single work of art, examining a variety of ways in which it has been analysed. The artworks studied will cover the historical breadth of teaching in the Department of History of Art, from the Renaissance to the present day. The aim is to highlight diverse methodological approaches to art history, and different perspectives in dialogue across periods, geographies, and backgrounds. Integrated weekly workshops will allow you to develop and refine the academic skills acquired in Introduction to Art History I.
Archaeology: The Living and the Dead
This module deals with the archaeology of life and death in all its complexity and diversity. You will learn about the major archaeological discoveries that have fundamentally changed our interpretations of past peoples. We also look at the personalities and ideologies that have shaped our discipline, noting how changing perspectives on gender, ethnicity and class have in turn shaped our ideas about the past. The module then turns to the archaeology of death – since, paradoxically, this can tell us a huge amount about the living. The cultural and scientific study of human remains will give you insights into past diets, social status, health and attitudes towards different members of society, while the study of burial practices and rituals cast light on the structure of human societies and their beliefs, from prehistory to the modern era.
Introduction to Archaeological Science
The use of methods from biological and earth sciences has transformed the practice of archaeology from the discovery of radiocarbon dating to the use of stable isotope analysis to trace the movements and diet of past populations. This module will introduce you to some of the key developments in archaeological science over the last 50 years and will show you how scientific methods have dramatically changed our understanding of the past, ranging from the study of archaeological materials and artefacts to environmental archaeology. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, seminars and practical classes.
Inventing French Art: From the Renaissance to Louis XIV
This module will provide a broad survey of French art from the later 16th century to the end of the 17th century, focusing on the era of Louis XIV. We will consider the role of architecture and different types of patronage; the creation and structure of the palace of Versailles; the origins of the Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture, and its use of theory and art education. We will focus on the careers of Charles Lebrun, and two of the Best-known French painters based in Rome (Nicolas Poussin and Claude Lorrain). We will also explore the remarkable provincial artists Georges de la Tour and the three Le Nain brothers. The module examines the functions of art and architecture within society and politics, and the invention of a national artistic tradition.
Art and Power: Paris 1937
This module focuses on the International Exhibition held in Paris in 1937, which provides a survey of art in the service of politics in the years immediately preceding World War II. Participating countries – including the USSR, Germany, Italy, and Spain – were represented by national pavilions, combining art and architecture to articulate national values and ambitions. The cultural battles between contrasting styles of state-sponsored art – Soviet Socialist Realism, German Neoclassicism, Spanish Modernism – will be examined in light of political and military conflicts at a time when Europe was divided by the ongoing civil war in Spain. The module will consider important individual works, such as Picasso’s Guernica, as well as the pavilions as integrated artworks, combining visual arts and architecture.
Plural Arts Histories
In this module, you will be examining selected pieces of art, architecture, and drama from classical Greece, China, Europe, colonial and postcolonial Americas, with some reference to contemporary examples, in order to explore some fundamental questions about art, such as: what is the relationship between creators and the world in which they live? How are the arts made, used, and regarded? In each case, the production and reception of the arts is studied through a contextual approach, paying attention to political, economic, religious, and cultural factors.
Art in America 1945-1980
This module introduces and examines some of the major themes and movements to emerge in American art after 1945, including Abstract Expressionism, Neo-Dada, Pop Art, and Conceptual Art. You will consider the historical and cultural contexts of art in a range of media, including painting, sculpture, installation and performance. You will look at some of the key critical responses to American modern art, and will investigate the extent to which post-1945 practices were radically new or whether they were informed by awareness of pre-war and/or European avant-garde practices.
Art, Politics and Protest in Twentieth Century America
This module examines the ways in which artists responded to and engaged with domestic and foreign politics in America from the 1950s to the 1970s. It considers the ways in which artists used a range of artistic practices as a means of protest in an era of capitalist consumerism, the Cold War and the American Vietnam War, the rise of identity and sexual politics and the civil rights movement. In particular, this module will examine the work of historically marginalised constituencies, including African American artists, Mexican American and Chicano artists, and women artists.
Courts and Princes in Renaissance Italy, 1450-1520
This module examines painting, architecture and sculpture at the courts of Ferrara, Mantua, Naples, Urbino and Milan in the period 1420-1520 and suggests that the small princely courts of Italy played an important role in shaping ‘the Renaissance’. Princes at courts competed for the services of the 'best' artists, and Leonardo da Vinci, Pisanello, Piero della Francesca and Andrea Mantegna were just some of the masters who worked for these Courts. This module draws both on established literature, but also seeks to incorporate more recent research questions regarding gender and material culture. As such, this module introduces students to questions that will be developed further in modules in second and third year. The role of women at court, and as patrons, will also be considered. The module focuses on: art as political propaganda; decoration of public and private spaces; establishment and celebration in art of dynasties; an image of the 'Prince'. Other issues of interest include an investigation into the link between political systems (Courts in this instance) and the type of commissions favoured by the patron; also, artists and cultural exchange between different courts, both within Italy and beyond.
Italian Art in the Age of Caravaggio
This module looks at Italian art in early seventeenth century Rome through a focus on one of the best known painters active during that period, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio. Caravaggio was a colourful character with a biography as delicious as his paintings, but the very notoriety of the artist during his lifetime can make looking at his merits as an artist quite difficult. Here, we look at Caravaggio and his contemporaries to get a better understanding of the artistic context of Rome in the late 1500s, a period often labelled as the Counter Reformation. The module will focus on the following themes: the importance of imagery as a vehicle of propaganda; the importance of display and collecting to elite Roman patrons; the relationship between political centres; self-fashioning; the importance of women as patrons and as subjects of art, but also as artists themselves.
Archaeological Research: Theory and Practice
The excitement of discovery and research is the foundation of everything we do as archaeologists. This module is aimed at helping you to develop more advanced research skills and to discover how we interpret archaeological evidence from multiple different perspectives. Here we explore how changes in the wider social and theoretical landscape have changed archaeological understanding through time. You will be introduced to the concepts and methods that you will put into practice in your third year dissertation or independent project, and learn how to develop a research proposal. The teaching is delivered in a mix of lectures, class workshops and research skills sessions.
Archaeology and Society: Heritage and Professional Skills
This module will introduce the structure and context of the professional archaeological sector in the UK, and issues and debates in cultural heritage. It will outline the process of working in archaeology and the type of work carried out by commercial units, museums, and local and national government heritage originations, with careers advice from professional archaeologists across the sector. Students will learn how archaeologists plan excavation projects, study the archaeology of standing buildings, and manage the historic environment. In the spring term, you will apply this knowledge and develop your research, presentation and team-working skills through a group multi-media heritage project focused on a local historic or archaeological site.
This module will examine the archaeology of empire, hegemony and identity in three different historical periods, exploring how archaeological material can shed light on ways in which empires were experienced by both colonisers and colonised. We will start with Rome, arguably the model for many later imperial projects, and assess the evidence for the expansion of the empire and the ways in which Roman and other identities are manifested. We will then consider the medieval empires of northern Europe, the Mediterranean, and the relationship between the Islamic world and the Crusader kingdoms of the Latin east. Finally, we will consider the Age of Discovery and the growth of European trans-Atlantic empires in the early modern era, exploring archaeological evidence for early colonial settlements, the growth of slavery, and the impact on native peoples.
The Archaeology of Anglo-Saxon England
This module considers the archaeology of England from the end of the Roman occupation until the Norman conquest. You will explore the question of the Romano-British survival and the formation of new Anglo-Saxon societies, evidence of pagan beliefs and the conversion to Christianity; on the development of town and rural settlement patterns, on the role of the church in society and on the Viking incursions and Danish impact on England.
Doing archaeology underwater is one of the most challenging but exciting contexts in which we work! This module will provide you with a broad introduction to current methods and practice of Underwater Archaeology. The module explores themes such as shipwrecks, submerged cities and sunken harbours, lake dwelling and freshwater archaeology, using case studies ranging in space from Scandinavia to Australia and in time from 1500 BC to the last century. It tackles the varied techniques of underwater excavation, finds processing and conservation, and the issue of cultural resource management vs. treasure hunting.
Exploring Archaeological Evidence
This module is designed to provide you with a solid understanding of the theory and practice of scientific archaeology, building on what you have learnt in the first year, and covers a series of exciting topics, ranging from bioarchaeology (zooarchaeology and archaeobotany) to ancient technologies. You will learn how to identify, analyse and interpret plant remains and animal bones, and how these can be employed to study diet, economic practices and cultural identities in the past. You will explore how glass, pottery and metal objects were made, used and traded, using a range of different approaches and techniques combining theory, ethnography and scientific analysis. The module includes a combination of lectures and practical sessions which will enhance your understanding and equip you with real skills to increase your employability should you seek a career in archaeology.
Human Osteology and Evolution
What can we learn from the human skeleton and how can we tell the stories of past people from their bones? In this module you will handle real archaeological skeletons and learn how to identify their age, sex, stature and pathologies, and how we can reconstruct past populations from burial evidence. We also consider the skeleton in terms of human evolution, examining the anatomical differences between human and non-human primates, as well as the archaeology and life ways of our earliest ancestors.
Art at the Tudor Courts, 1485-1603
This module will provide an introduction to visual art at the Tudor courts, from the accession of Henry VII in 1485 to the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. In doing so, it takes account of a wide range of art forms, from portraiture to pageantry, jewellery to the book. Key issues dealt with in lectures and seminars include contemporary theories of visuality and monarchy, the particular context of court culture, and the use of visual material in the service of self -fashioning. It considers the impact of major historical developments including the reformation and the advent of print. As such, the relationship of the arts to politics is a key theme. Through exploring the highly sophisticated uses of visual art at the Tudor courts, the course seeks to re-evaluate the common idea that English art at the time was isolationist and inferior to that of continental Europe.
From the Bastille to the Eiffel Tower
This module provides an overview of the development of Paris from the French Revolution to the Third Republic. Themes considered include: the evolving structure of the city; the evolution of building types; representations of the city; the symbolic geography of Paris; the Parisian art world (artists’ studios, the art market, and exhibitions); and major monuments and sites such as the Panthéon and the Opera Garnier.
This module explores the Italian Futurist movement as a pioneering project in multimedia experimentation, which included painting, sculpture, architecture, design, photography, film, performance, typography, literature, fashion, and music. It investigates the movement’s apparent rejection of Italy’s cultural heritage and celebration of twentieth century technology, from the speed of the motorcar to the violence of modern warfare. The political objectives of the Futurists will be considered, including the movement’s complex relationship with Fascism. The publicity strategies of the group, such as the extensive use of manifestoes and provocative public interventions, will also be examined. The module will cover the period from Futurism’s headline-grabbing conception in 1909 through to the end of its second manifestation in the 1940s.
Realism and Impressionism, 1840-1890
This module examines two of the most influential movements in Western art, Realism and Impressionism. We will consider the major figures and critical debates in the history of modern art. Among the artists to be studied are Courbet, Bonheur, Millet, Manet, Morisot, Degas, Cassatt, Renoir, and others. This module includes the study of different critical approaches to the study of art works and visual culture.
Los Angeles Art and Architecture
This module introduces a number of artistic and architectural practices that emerged in Southern California after 1945. Exploring their cultural and historical context, we will consider the role of Los Angeles in the development of post-1945 American art and architecture, including mid-century modernism, Pop Art, Conceptual Art and Light & Space Art. Central to this module is the question of whether all art made in Los Angeles can be classified as “Los Angeles Art” – that is, the extent to which the art and architecture of the region necessarily reflected the geographical location, climate, and expansive urban layout of Los Angeles. To this end, we will consider the critical reception of art of this period, investigating, amongst other critical constructs, the notions of centre and periphery, regionalism and the cultural construction of the American west that shaped much writing on California during the period.
This module examines the history of museums, galleries, collecting and the history and politics of the display of art objects. The emphasis is on the last two hundred years. Discussion will focus on such issues as: the establishment of national institutions such as the Louvre and the National Gallery, London; the role of cultural imperialism; exhibitions and their history; and the modern art museum.
This module examines the visual representation of the human body from antiquity the 21st century. It will entail close study and analysis of visual images, combined with critical readings in the histories and theory of art, society, film and visual culture. Key themes will include: health and the politics of ‘normality’; the sexual body; the modified body; ideal and grotesque bodies; and the ‘foreign’ body. The particular concerns of the module are; visualising social differences of gender, class and race; the cultural formations of ‘difference’; and the ways these are negotiated and secured in images of the body.
Dissertation in Archaeology
This module will introduce you to original archaeological research by providing you with an opportunity to undertake and write up your own substantial piece of work of 12,000 words, on an approved topic, under the supervision of an academic member of staff. For this project you will work in a way similar to an academic archaeologist, from identifying a suitable research topic to critically evaluating the issues relating to the subject area and sustaining a coherent and cogent argument. This undertaking will involve the culmination of the range of core practical and interpretative skills acquired during the first two years of the course.
Dissertation in History of Art
This module involves the in-depth study of an art historical topic over one or two semesters. You will chose the topic in consultation with a tutor, subject to the approval of the Department. You will be allocated a dissertation supervisor appropriate to the chosen topic. Teaching for this module takes the form of individual tutorials with your dissertation supervisor, as well as group workshops focusing on research, writing, and presentation skills. It provides you with the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of writing on a topic of particular personal interest.
Independent Research Project
Students not undertaking a dissertation in archaeology will carry out an independent research project (6,000 words) in the autumn or spring semester, using skills they have acquired in earlier modules to research a subject of their choice under the guidance of an appropriate supervisor. For this module you will meet with you supervisor in individual tutorials.
The Archaeology of the Medieval City
The aim of this module is to provide you with a broad knowledge of the archaeological evidence for the development of cities and urban life in the later medieval period AD 1000-1500, with a focus on English towns and cities in their wider Europe context. The module will explore the integration of varied sources of archaeological evidence including urban landscapes, buildings and material culture, covering key themes such as urban growth, trade and industry, households and daily life, guilds and the Church.
Rome and the Mediterranean
In this module you will examine the archaeological evidence for the Roman period in Italy and the Mediterranean from 300 BC to AD 550. The major social, cultural and economic changes of the region in this period will be discussed as well as in the context of wider historical and archaeological approaches to the Mediterranean. Through a combination of lectures and seminars you will learn about Rome’s expansion into Italy and the Mediterranean, and the changes that occurred in towns, domestic building, rural settlement, religion, economy and society across the period from the Republic until Late Antiquity.
The Archaeology of Mycenaean Greece
This module will introduce you to the archaeology of the Mycenaean world and will give you familiarity with the achievements and the material culture of one of the greatest European Bronze Age civilizations of the second millennium BC, by discussing the historical, social, cultural and economic context of the period. You will explore the world of the Mycenaean palaces and citadels, their towns and trading ports, warfare, religion and cult activities, mortuary practices and ancestor worship, and their wider connections across the Mediterranean world.
Dead Important: archaeological answers to modern-day issues
Archaeology may be focused on the study of the past, but we believe that it is vitally important to help us understand the present and make a contribution to the future. This really exciting module breaks new ground by using archaeology to inform present-day concerns caused by increasing human population, intensification of food production, urbanisation, globalisation, climate change and inter-cultural conflict. None of these issues are purely modern phenomena, and this module brings an archaeological perspective covering 10,000 years of global culture change, using the innovative research being undertaken in our Department, to model bio-cultural dynamics and make a contribution to understanding and meeting the challenges facing the modern world.
Food and Culture: An exploration of tastes
Food is not just about nutrition and environment but it has also a strong socio-cultural dimension. This module takes an innovative approach to understanding the social role of food and plants, linking the past to current issues of food security, sustainability, trade and social in/stability. The module tackles issues such as the development of tastes, identity, social status, ethnicity, health and medicine, and feasting and commensality. It will explore the creation of ‘foodscapes’ and the investigation of diet and plants that cross boundaries in space and time from prehistory to the modern era, bringing together perspectives from archaeology, anthropology, sociology and geography.
Through a Glass Darkly
Ancient glass is a unique and beautiful translucent material. Since it was invented some 5000 years ago it has been used for a wide range of functions, from luxurious and decorative objects, to vessels and containers for traded liquids, to the coloured windows used in medieval churches and cathedrals. This module covers how glass is made from raw materials, how it was coloured and decorated, and how it was used in a variety of functional and ritual contexts from the Bronze Age to the medieval period. The module brings together socio-cultural and scientific perspectives to show how scientific analysis sheds light on glass technology, trade and provenance, and during practical sessions students will handle ancient glass and try out some of the techniques for themselves.
European Avant-Garde Film
This module examines avant-garde cinema in early 20th century Europe. It will begin by exploring what is meant by the term ‘avant-garde’, and consider the development of experimental filmmaking in the context of artistic movements such as Futurism, Cubism, Dada, Surrealism and Constructivism. You will focus on developments in Germany, France and the Soviet Union during the 1920s and 1930s, and consider key trends from abstract animation to cinema pur. The module will highlight some key concerns of non-mainstream cinema such as narrative, abstraction, reflexivity, spectatorship, movement, time and space. You will also examine the engagement of experimental film with modernity, considering both aesthetic and political strategies of the European avant-gardes.
American Visual Culture
The module examines the visual culture of America from the late 19th century to the present day. The module explores how visual culture – art, advertising, architecture, cinema, television, cartography, video, the internet and images of science – has transformed and shaped the image of the United States. The module looks closely at a series of themes: urban and rural landscapes, icons and iconography, art and photography, race and gender in the US, high and low culture, sex and sexuality. The module also introduces various visual and critical theories which help us better understand the visual cultures of the United States of America.
Renaissance Luxuries: Art and Good Living in Italy 1400-1600
This module seeks to engage with the Renaissance as a period of conspicuous consumption of a range of luxury goods, and examines the social, cultural and economic factors which characterised the period 1400-1600. Amongst the issues raised in lectures and seminars will be the importance of objects as signifier of status, magnificence, the diversification of objects and the concomitant rise in specialised living arrangements, and women as consumers of art. In this module you will have one 1-hour lecture and a one 2-hour seminar each week.
Rome Museum City
This module provides a survey of the changing identity of Rome as a destination for travel, a site for art education, and subject of representation. Themes include: the visibility and interpretation of antiquity and other historical material; travel and tourism; Rome as capital; the Roman landscape; the Roman people as a subject; and the evolving structure of the city.
Fascism, Spectacle and Display
This module will examine cultural production during Italy’s fascist regime. There will be an emphasis on the experience of visual culture in public settings such as the exhibition space, the cinema, and the built environment. A wide range of cultural artefacts will be examined, paying attention to material as well as visual aspects. Visual material will be situated in the social, cultural and political circumstances of the period. Topics will include: Fascism’s use of spectacle, fascist conceptions of utopia, the regime’s use of the past, the relationship between Fascism and modernism, Fascism as a political religion, the cult of Mussolini, urban-rural relations, and empire building. The module will also consider the afterlife of fascist visual culture and the question of ‘difficult’ heritage.
Mobility and the Making of Modern Art
New technologies of mobility have long been a defining condition of modernity. It is from this perspective that we will examine modern art while highlighting the interrelated components of movement and speed – mechanized motion, temporality and their political connotations (e.g., social, ideological, artistic trends). This module includes a range of works, mainly paintings, from the mid nineteenth century to the early twentieth century. We will also consider photography and other pre-cinematic forms of moving images such as optical devices, peepshows, and panoramas that added different motion and time to representation. A key question is the role of artists in naturalizing the equation between mobility, modernity, and the West. To this end, our consideration will involve non-Western representations to explore the ideological and economic implications of mobility.
This module traces the development of performance art from the 1950s to the 1980s. It considers the work of a number of artists in America and Europe in terms of their focus on the body of the artist, the dematerialization of the art object, and the changing role of the audience or viewer. Students will engage with a range of theories of identity, gender and selfhood; phenomenology and participation; duration, temporality and impermanence pain, endurance and abjection. Exploring performance art’s relationship with other visual art forms, including dance, experimental music, film and television, this module considers and evaluates the art historical genealogies of performance art and body art and examines the ways in which performance art has shifted the terms of art history. In addition, it will consider the issues at stake in constructing a history of performance art, and in documenting, exhibiting, and writing about ephemeral, invisible, or indeterminate practices.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.