Topics in Art History and Visual Culture I (AHV1008)

15 credits

This module offers you a first opportunity for detailed study of a major topic in art history and visual culture through a contextual examination of selected movements, periods or themes, dating from the Renaissance to the present day. The course is designed to introduce you to the sustained analysis of visual objects and you will be encouraged to engage closely with individual works and the debates that are assembled around them. The current theme is Classicism in the Early Modern Netherlands. Classicism has its roots in the material cultures of the Greeks, Etruscans, and Romans from roughly 1200 BCE to the fall of the Roman Empire in the fifth century CE but its uses and meanings have evolved over centuries. As a key strand in the history of Western European culture, the phenomenon of classicism has had a significant impact on a broad range of cultural production and has featured prominently in the academic and political spheres. Each historical era forged its own conception of classicism but, as a category it is always relational—it implies peaks and troughs—and access to it, both in terms of production and consumption, was largely reserved for members of the educated elite. This module considers classicism through the lens of the Early Modern Netherlands, where the reception of antiquity developed in a particular direction, both in dialogue with and in counterbalance to the Italian tradition. Subjects to be considered include painting, architecture, art theory, print culture, collecting, conceptions of the body, and patronage and gender.