Art Revolutions

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
27 September 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module offers an in-depth study of a revolutionary moment in the production of art. Why is it that artists 'suddenly' start to create works that are startlingly different from what came before?

Starting with the provocative Realism of the mid nineteenth century, The module will further investigate Impressionism in the context of the social, political and economic changes that heralded the birth of modernity in France.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

  • To introduce students to key movements in the history of art by focusing on Realism and Impressionism.

  • To develop skills of oral and written description and analysis of art works.

  • To develop interpretation skills through comparative visual analysis.

  • To familiarise students with the use of primary and secondary sources.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to have:

  1. A sound grasp of Realist and Impressionist artworks and their context.

  2. The ability to interpret works and texts based on sound knowledge of the appropriate historical and interpretative contexts.

  3. The confidence to subject the texts studied to critical analysis.

  4. Good bibliographic and basic research skills.

Skills for your Professional Life

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

  1. Engage with the subject through visual analysis and close attention to detail.

  2. Define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant.

  3. Seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information.

  4. Process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments.

  5. Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure.

  6. Write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications.

  7. Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them.

  8. Think 'laterally' and creatively (i.e., to explore interesting connections and possibilities, and to present these clearly rather than as vague hunches).

  9. Maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position based on feedback.

  10. Think critically and constructively.

Module information

The themes we will explore will include labour and class, gender, the built environment, and display. We will explore not only the historical stature and reputation of Courbet, Manet, Degas, Monet, Morisot, Cassatt and others, but their contemporary relevance. The module will also examine why artists reacted to their time, and how they also came to influence it.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour combined lecture and seminar per week.

There will also be Reading Week when no teaching will take place, exact week to be confirmed.


  • Courbet, G. (1966) ‘The Realist Manifesto’, in Realism and tradition in art, 1848-1900: sources and documents. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, pp. 33–34.
  • Frédérique Desbuissons (no date) ‘Courbet’s Materialism’, Oxford Art Journal, 31(2), pp. 251–260. Available at:
  • Baudelaire, C. (1964) ‘The Painter of Modern Life’, in The painter of modern life: and other essays. [London]: Phaidon, pp. 1–40.
  • Duranty, L.E.E. (1986) ‘The New Painting: Concerning the Group of Artists Exhibiting at the Durand-Ruel Galleries [1876]’, in The New painting: impressionism 1874-1886. Oxford: Phaidon, pp. 37–49.
  • Shiff, R. (1992) ‘Defining “Impressionism” and the “Impression”’, in Art in modern culture: an anthology of critical texts. London: Phaidon Press, pp. 181–188.
  • Herbert, R. (1979) ‘Method and Meaning in Monet’, Art in America, 67(5), pp. 90–108.
  • Armstrong, C. (1986) ‘Edgar Degas and the Representation of the Female Body’, in The Female body in western culture: contemporary perspectives. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press, pp. 223–242.
  • Pollock, G. (1988) ‘Modernity and the Spaces of Femininity’, in Vision and difference: femininity, feminism, and histories of art. London: Routledge, pp. 50–90. Available at:
  • Nochlin, L. (1989) ‘Morisot’s Wet Nurse: The Construction of Work and Leisure in Impressionist Painting’, in Women art and power: and other essays. London: Thames and Hudson, pp. 37–56. Available at:
  • Garb, T. (1998) ‘Gustave Caillebotte’s Male Figures: Masculinity, Muscularity and Modernity’, in Bodies of modernity: figure and flesh in fin-de-siècle France. New York: Thames and Hudson.
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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   Quizzes TOTAL    20% 
Coursework   250-word Essay Proposal with Bibliography    30% 
Coursework   1250-word Research Essay     50% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez, email:
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez
PHAIS General Office - 6.130;



External examiner

Dr Dominic Paterson
University of Glasgow
Senior Lecturer in History of Art / Curator of Contemporary Art
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 19 (95%) hours available to students:
1 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


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