Art and Ideas: I(B)

PLEASE NOTE: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

The details
Art History and Theory
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
03 July 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module aims to provide an overview of the varied ways in which art historians, philosophers, artists and critics have thought and written about art from Antiquity to the twentieth century. It is organised around two major themes: Representation, and the problematic emotions of pity and fear.
The module begins by examining a painting by the Belgian surrealist René Magritte, The Treachery of Images. We will consider how Magritte addresses issues relating to representation that have preoccupied artists and thinkers throughout history. Next, we will explore some of the writings on art of the ancient Greek philosopher Plato – particularly in the Republic and Ion. We will examine Plato's critique of the arts and consider the wider implications of his positions. In the following weeks we will consider how some of the same problems have been addressed at other points in history, looking at the writings of Leonardo da Vinci and Roland Barthes. The module next turns to the issue of negative emotions such as pity and fear. The question of whether artists should depict these emotions, or try to arouse them in their viewers, was one that preoccupied Plato. It was taken up by Plato's follower Aristotle, who wrote a powerful defence of both art as a whole and tragedy specifically. Aristotle's short treatise, the Poetics, has had a lasting influence on art theory in Europe and elsewhere. We will consider how it might contribute to our understanding of art, and tragedy in particular. Alongside this, we shall consider the notion of horror as it is analysed by Julia Kristeva. The module draws to a close with an exploration of Friedrich Nietzsche's The Birth of Tragedy, in which a discourse developed over millennia, and rooted in the philosophy of Aristotle, collides with the preoccupations of Modernity.

Module aims

The aims of this module are: to provide students with knowledge of some of the key theoretical issues relating to the history of art; to encourage students to interact and to engage critically with theoretical texts relating to the study of art history; to develop students' skills of analysis and interpretation of works of art and architecture; to stimulate students to develop skills in oral and written communication through debates, essays, and examinations; to introduce students to original works of art and architecture in galleries and museums, in addition to their classroom studies

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module students should be able: to demonstrate a sound knowledge and grasp of a number of key theoretical texts relating to the study of the history of art; to speak and write articulately about theoretical issues relating to the study of the history of art; to analyse and interpret works of art and architecture; to relate their analyses and interpretations of works of art to theoretical literature; to approach theoretical literature in a critical fashion.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

No information available.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Weekly Reading Summaries (Total) 20%
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 17)
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 18)
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 19)
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 20)
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 22)
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 23)
Coursework Essay (2500 Words) 80%
Coursework Reading Summary (Week 24)
Exam 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Caspar Pearson



External examiner

Prof Richard Simon Clay
Newcastle University
Professor of Digital Cultures
Available via Moodle
Of 22 hours, 22 (100%) hours available to students:
0 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.