Introduction to the History of Art I

Module code: HA1112 

Module co-ordinator: Dr Thomas Frangenberg

Module Overview

A basic comprehension of the history of Western art from classical antiquity to the present day is essential for all art historians for three key reasons. First, one of the recurrent phenomena of art’s history is the way individual artists have responded to the achievements of their predecessors. Secondly, because the art of the past – whether of classical antiquity or of the medieval past – has often enjoyed a particular authority in later periods. And thirdly, because art historians have conventionally divided up the history of art into periods, classifying some of them stylistically, some conceptually, to reduce their subject to manageable proportions.

Our objectives in this team taught module are, first, to introduce terms such as ‘Romanesque’, ‘Gothic’ and ‘Renaissance’ and second, to demonstrate the ways in which they are used. We do not attempt to have some intrinsic experience, but rather to inculcate a critical understanding of how they are used, as a means of defining and articulating major change in the history of art. So, the module aims to develop an awareness of the nature of periodisation and to foster an understanding of how period terms are deployed. The history of western art is not an immutable narrative handed down to art historians, but one developed and changed by them, a set of sometimes competing histories which art historians deploy or question as they investigate their material. This module will cover art from classical antiquity to the Rococo.

Teaching and Learning Methods

Lectures, Seminars, Field Work, Guided Independent Study. 

Assessment Method

  • Two hour examination at the end of the semester (50%)
  • 2 x 1,500 word essays (50%)