You’ll have at least 10 hours of timetabled contact a week through lectures, seminars and tutorials.
Themes in Near Eastern Prehistory
You will critically examine themes in Near Eastern Prehistory. The themes take you from the development of agriculture, pastoralism and sedentism to the appearance of the first cities, states and writing. Drawing directly from current research, you will use case studies to examine these themes. You will use archaeological evidence to understand how these developments are reflected in social, religious, economic and political organisations of the prehistoric Near East. You will attend weekly lectures and seminars. After appropriate guidance, you will take part in learning activities includes:
- setting readings
- running classroom discussions.
You will receive feedback on these participatory activities. You will write an essay for your formal assessment.
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.
The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions
This discipline-bridging cross-campus module will involve colleagues from across the School of Humanities. The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as the definitions of the Silk Roads, Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads, luxury production, trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods, and Ming Dynasty links with the west. Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads will also be considered, between for example China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.
Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)
This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire, from the crisis that marked the middle years of the third century to the disappearance of Roman power in the early fifth and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed. This is a fascinating period: an era of prosperity, integration, and sophistication, and yet marked also by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.
The module takes an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence – students will be expected to familiarise themselves with a wide range of types of evidence. We will examine the political framework of the later-Roman Empire, the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy, the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it, and the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire. It will encourage students to consider the integration of different types of source material and to think about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.
The World of the Etruscans
When Rome was still a small town and before Athens became a city of international significance the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean. Who were the Etruscans?
The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more, about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.
In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.
By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.
The Origins and Rise of Aegean Civilisation
In the early 20th century, British archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans’s excavations at the site of Knossos on the island of Crete uncovered the remains of the earliest palatial civilisation in Europe. Knossos, the home of the mythical king Minos and the monstrous Minotaur, became the landmark of a new culture termed as ‘Minoan’.
Based on a combination of lectures and workshops, this module introduces students to the origins of the Aegean complex societies from the late 4th millennium BC and to the rise, apogee and fall of the Minoan palatial, state-level societies of the 3rd and early 2nd millennia BC.
Understanding Cultural Industries
You'll learn how show business is broken down into 'show' and 'business' in film, television and promotional industries and examine how creative decision-making, technology and legislation influence those industries. You'll also learn about how advertising and market research influence the design and production of media in certain regions and how film and television industries have developed in different contexts and periods.
Media Identities: Who We Are and How We Feel
This module develops critical modes of attention to the mediation of identity. On our screens and in our headphones, we shape and reshape our selves. Media do not reflect identities but play an active role in bringing them into being. This module takes up the question of 'identity politics', enhancing students' knowledge and understanding of key identity categories that have been advanced and problematized by media scholars, such as gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, national, regional and local belonging, age, ability and disability, and more. The module also interrogates the mediated forms these identities take, considering the politics of looking and visual culture, the politics of hearing and auditory culture, and the politics of affect, emotions and embodiment. The module encourages historical as well as contemporary perspectives.
The Sixties: Culture and Counterculture
Described variously as an era of dissent, revolution and experiment, the 1960s offers a unique vantage point from which to explore a range of issues and topics pertinent to media and cultural studies. The art of the period brings into view a volatile world where distinctions between different media were becoming blurred (as in performance art, for instance) and where inherited ideas, hierarchies and values were contested, if not exploded. Notions such as the Establishment, the underground, celebrity, obscenity, mass culture, alongside those of personal identity (gender, race, class, sexuality) were all subject to radical questioning in an era where events, such as those of the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War, challenged the received order of things. This module critically evaluates the idea of the 1960s, starting with its status as a fabled decade that is said to cast its shadow today. Historiographical and geographical questions structure the module. When and, crucially, where were ‘the Sixties’? Was it primarily an Anglo-American phenomenon? Was it the 1950s until 1963? Did it end in the early 1970s, as some believe, with the Oz Trials? These and other questions will help us to demythologise the period and begin investigating it anew.
Film and Television in Social and Cultural Context
During this year-long module you'll think about industries, audiences and surrounding debates from a social and cultural viewpoint. You'll learn about the way that social and cultural meaning is produced by film and television programmes and explore the social practices that surround the consumption of media, such as movie going and television viewing.
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.
Black Art in a White Context: Display, Critique and The Other
You will explore the works and practices of Black artists that have been displayed or produced in Europe and America from the nineteenth century to the present day. This includes how methods of display, tactics of critique and attitudes towards the 'Other' have defined and influenced how Black art is viewed and produced in the Western world.
You will begin by considering nineteenth-century attitudes towards African objects, before exploring the influences of ethnography and African material culture on artists working in the early- to mid-twentieth century, such as the Surrealists. You will then consider artworks produced in the Harlem Renaissance by painters like Aaron Douglas and photographers like James Van Der Zee.
You will then think about how artists like Jeff Donaldson and Faith Ringgold sought to recover African history, culture, and forms of memory in the context of the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 1970s, and how their work responded to the political and social pressures of this period.
Examining the practices of more recent artists like Lorna Simpson, Glenn Ligon, and Kara Walker, you will then explore how artists have critically re-presented history’s narratives in ‘the present’ before focusing on the curatorial works of Fred Wilson.
Finally, you will consider the rise of contemporary African art within European and American art markets, and the related economic and political shifts that have occurred since the colonial era.
Digital Communications and Media
Digital communication and media are significantly transforming the ways in which our societies operate. In this module you will critically explore the key issues behind this transformation. In doing so, you will gain a historical overview of the emergence of digital communications and associated media cultures. You will engage with issues and practices said to differentiate digital communication from older forms of media and their associated forms of communication.
You will draw on a range of theoretical perspectives and methodological approaches. Lectures and seminars will equip you with core knowledge of the theoretical and practical foundations of digital communication and media and their relationship to contemporary culture. You will also develop your understanding of the cultural, political, economic, technical and regulatory contexts from which digital communication and media have emerged and in which they continue to operate.
In order to link the various conceptual frameworks to real-life experiences and situations effectively, you will explore the interactive forms and practices that result from the use of digital communication and media through a range of both individual and group activities and exercises.
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.