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Unit information: Aesthetics of Revolution and Resistance: 21st-Century Images of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Aesthetics of Revolution and Resistance: 21st-Century Images of North Africa and the Eastern Mediterranean
Unit code FREN30106
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Shilton
Open unit status Open
Pre-requisites

FREN20001

Co-requisites

None

School/department Department of French
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description

A striking range of artwork has emerged in response to the diverse and uneven phenomenon of the ‘Arab Spring’. This explosion of artistic expression encompasses a dazzling array of media ranging from paper-based works to multi-media installations, video, new media, sculpture, performance and graffiti. This course focuses primarily on art that responds to the Tunisian Revolution of January 2011 and its aftermath. There will also be comparative sessions on art that examines the Revolutions in the distinct contexts of Egypt and Syria. We will ask: how are Revolutions evoked via different art forms? How and why do many artists actively seek to avoid what photographer Jellel Gasteli has called ‘icons of revolutionary exoticism’? How does art respond to women’s participation in the Revolutions? How is art that engages with the Revolutions and their impact anticipated in works produced prior to 2011? Material to be studied may include art presented or performed in gallery, outdoor and virtual spaces by artists such as Aïcha Filali, Wassim Ghozlani, Mouna Karray and Oussema Troudi, as well as literature by writers such as Lina Ben Mhenni and Dora Latiri.

This unit aims to:

a) develop students’ knowledge of artwork that engages with, or anticipates, the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and the wider ‘Arab Spring’;

b) develop students’ understanding and use of a range of cultural and historical criticism through which to interpret such artwork;

c) expand students’ knowledge of the contexts from which the prescribed works emerged;

d) refine students’ analytical and comparative skills in interpreting art across media and cultures;

allow students to undertake independent research into an aspect of 21st-century art exploring the Revolutions or their aftermath.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an advanced understanding of artwork that engages with, or anticipates, the Tunisian Revolution of 2011 and the wider ‘Arab Spring’ orally and in writing;
  2. deploy an appropriate range of cultural and historical criticism through which to interpret such artwork;
  3. articulate an advanced understanding of the works’ relationship to the contexts from which they emerged;
  4. demonstrate sophisticated analytical and comparative skills in interpreting art across media and cultures.

Teaching details

The unit will be taught through a combination of tutor- and student-led seminars (1 x 2hr slot weekly across 11 weeks). Additional material will be made available to students via Blackboard.

Assessment Details

1 10 minute individual oral presentation in French (25%)

1 4000-word essay in English (75%). Both assignments will test ILOs 1-4.

Reading and References

Dakhlia, J., Tunisie: le pays sans bruit (Actes Sud, 2011)

Downey, A. ed. (2014) For the Common Good? Artistic Practices and Civil Society in Tunisia. In Uncommon Grounds: New Media an Critical Practices in North Africa and the Middle East. London and New York: I.B. Tauris. pp. 53-69.

Joffé, G. (2011) The Arab Spring in North Africa: Origins and Prospects. The Journal of North African Studies. 16.4, pp. 507-32.

Khalil, A. (2014) Tunisia’s Women: Partners in Revolution. The Journal of North African Studies. 19.2, pp. 186-99 (see also A. Khalil’s introduction to this special issue, ‘Gender Paradoxes of the Arab Spring’)

Labidi, L. (2014) Political, Aesthetic, and Ethical Positions of Tunisian Women Artists, 2011-13. The Journal of North African Studies 19.2, pp. 157-71.

Shilton, S. (2013) Art and the ‘Arab Spring’: Aesthetics of Revolution in Contemporary Tunisia. French Cultural Studies. 24.1, pp. 129-45.

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