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Unit information: Cold War Culture: Art and Politics since 1945 (Level I Special Field) in 2021/22

Unit name Cold War Culture: Art and Politics since 1945 (Level I Special Field)
Unit code HART26001
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Mike O'Mahony
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will introduce students to the theory and practice of the visual arts after 1945 in the context of Cold War politics. It will adopt a tripartite structure exploring three geographical arenas of central importance to Cold War politics: mainland Europe, the United States and the Soviet Union. Through a comparative analysis of the historical conditions and cultural debates generated in each of these arenas during the Post-Second World War era, students will gain a broader awareness of: the diversity of art produced in the second half of the twentieth century; the relationship between the artist and nation state; the use and abuse of visual culture in a context of heightened political tension; the important role played by the dissemination of information about art in public exhibitions and art publications; and the contested identity of the artist in the late twentieth century. Students will learn to engage critically with the complexity of cultural practices during a crucial period in twentieth century history.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. identify and analyse the significance of key themes in the development of art and visual culture in the context of the Cold War
  2. articulate an understanding of the historiographical debates that surround the topic
  3. deploy skills in working with primary sources
  4. demonstrate writing and research skills appropriate to level I/5.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Information

One 3000-word summative essay (75%) [ILOs 1-4]

One timed assessment (25%) [ILOs 1-2]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. HART26001).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.