You'll take part in a field trip to a major European cultural centre and carry out an independent study project based on one of the sites visited. Recent destinations have included Berlin, Paris and Rome.
The rest of the year is a free choice of modules to explore your own passions and interests.
You must pass year two which counts one third towards your final degree classification.
You will take from two to four modules from this group.
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.
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.
Los Angeles Art and Architecture 1945-1980
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.
Memory, Media and Visual Culture
Media, TV, film and visual culture play a central role in forming our knowledge of the past. There is no memory without its representation in language or images. Using a range of case studies, you will explore how different forms of remembrance add weight to what they represent. Who remembers what, when, where, why and to what purpose? Why do screen and other media retell certain stories over and over again, and how is such remembrance linked to the erasure of other pasts? What is the relationship between national and transnational memories, when set against memories of enslavement and its visualisations? These, and other questions, will guide our approach to an interdisciplinary field of media, film and visual studies. The module will also encourage you to reflect critically on regimes of visibility and narration, and on the distinct ways that memories of certain events are communicated via different genres, institutions, and artefacts. This module is worth 20 credits.
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.
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.
You will take up to two modules in this group.
Understanding Cultural Industries
In this module 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. This module is worth 20 credits.
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.
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
- learn about the way that social and cultural meaning is produced by film and television programmes
- explore the social practices that surround the consumption of media, such as movie going and television viewing
Some of the specific questions we might look at together include:
- How do value judgements shape the way in which movies and television programmes get made
- What is "good" television?
- What challenges are public service broadcasters, like the BBC, facing and how should they address these?
- How have writers and producers attempted to use television drama to enact social change?
- What kind of TV programmes are preferred by streaming services and why?
- How might binge watching impact on the viewer's experience and social communication?
This module is worth 20 credits.
Digital Communication and Media
Digital communication and media are significantly transforming the ways our societies operate. In this module you will critically explore key issues behind this transformation, and investigate theoretical and practical foundations of digital communication and media and their relationship to contemporary culture. You will study the cultural, political, economic, technical and regulatory contexts from which digital communication and media have emerged and in which they continue to operate. To link conceptual frameworks to real-life experiences and situations, the module also provides opportunities for you to 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. This module is worth 20 credits.