Art, Sex and Death

The details
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 08 October 2020
Friday 18 December 2020
11 May 2020


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V314 Art History,
BA V315 Art History (Including Placement Year),
BA V31B Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V350 Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA V35A Art History (Including Year Abroad),
MARTV399 Art History,
MARTVB98 Art History (Including Placement Year),
MARTVB99 Art History (Including Year Abroad),
BA V351 Curating,
BA V352 Curating (Including Year Abroad),
BA V353 Curating (including Placement Year),
BA V359 Curating (Including Foundation Year),
BA V35B Curating (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Module description

In this module on France, we will begin with the opulence and decadence of the court of Louis XIV at Versailles, move towards the violent post-revolutionary world of the Terror, and end with the ambitious First Empire of Napoleon. We will examine the intersection of the Rococo and the society that produced it, which was both literary and debauched. We will look at why Marie Antoinette was so despised and the reasons for the French Revolution. We will focus on painters such as Jacques-Louis David, a Neo-Classicist whose image-making helped to shape Republican ideals and later to build an empire. He and others understood the power of images to motivate the masses--this led to both patriotic parades and the creation of the Louvre. Sex and death were constant themes of the art of the period we will be examining, which spans roughly from the middle of the seventeenth century to the first quarter of the nineteenth.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. to provide students with a grounding in the history of France though its art and visual culture from the mid-seventeenth through early nineteenth centuries;

2. to explore issues related to the main developments in French art from the late seventeenth through early nineteenth centuries and to be able to relate those issues to the politics, social contexts and ideological debates of their times, and subsequently;

3. to introduce students to specialised debates in past and recent literature around the Rococo and Neo-Classicism;

4. to raise student awareness of different methods of approaching the discipline through analysis of chosen texts;

5. to stimulate students to develop skills in communication through written assignments and seminars.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively (i.e., to explore interesting connections and possibilities, and to present these clearly rather than as vague hunches);
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position based on feedback;
9. think critically and constructively.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a two-hour combined lecture and seminar each week. All teaching events will be accessible to students on and off campus either face-to-face or remotely through online teaching. Week 8 is Reading Week.


  • Nancy Patterson Ševcenko. (1999) 'The "Vita" Icon and the Painter as Hagiographer', in Dumbarton Oaks Papers. vol. 53, pp.149-165
  • Begel, Andrea. (2013) '"A new and monstrous Creation": The Female Demoniac in Thirteenth-Century Franciscan Art', in Nierika: Revista de Estudios de Arte., pp.19-31
  • Michael Goodich. (1994) 'Sexuality, Family, and the Supernatural in the Fourteenth Century', in Journal of the History of Sexuality. vol. 4 (4) , pp.493-516
  • Cathleen Sara Hoeniger. (2002) 'The Child Miracles in Simone Martini's Beato Agostino Novello Altarpiece', in Zeitschrift für Kunstgeschichte., pp.303-324
  • Herbert Blumer. (1971) 'Social Problems as Collective Behavior', in Social Problems. vol. 18 (3) , pp.298-306
  • Bull, Marcus Graham. (1999) The miracles of Our Lady of Rocamadour: analysis and translation, Rochester, NY: Boydell Press.
  • Goffen, Rona. (c1996) 'Wives and Mothers: Adultery, Madness, and Marital Misery in Titian's Paduan Frescoes', in Desire and discipline: sex and sexuality in the premodern West, Toronto: University of Toronto Press., pp.217-244
  • Bleiker, Roland; Campbell, David; Hutchison, Emma; Nicholson, Xzarina. (2013-12) 'The visual dehumanisation of refugees', in Australian Journal of Political Science. vol. 48 (4) , pp.398-416

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   1500 Word Essay    40% 
Coursework   Essay Proposal with bibliography    25% 
Coursework   Quizzes TOTAL     35% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez, email:
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez



External examiner

Prof Richard Simon Clay
Newcastle University
Professor of Digital Cultures
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 18 (90%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Art History and Theory

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.