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Unit information: Using Visual Culture in 2015/16

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Unit name Using Visual Culture
Unit code CLAS12368
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. D'Costa
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

The people of the ancient world lived in an exceedingly visual culture. Ancient audiences responded to a wide variety of visual stimuli - from formal works of art and architecture to performance and ritual. Successful participation in religious, political and social life relied on the ability to interpret visual information. Using a number of different methodological approaches and a series of case studies from the Roman world, this unit equips students with the tools needed to study these visual aspects of ancient culture. In providing both the practical skills of 'reading' images and the theoretical issues involved in studying visual material, we will ask: What questions can we ask of visual evidence? How does art communicate meaning? The ultimate aim of this unit is to enable students to use visual culture with confidence in their wider studies of the ancient world.


The aim of this unit will be to enable students to use visual culture in their wider studies of the ancient world. It will equip students both with the practical skills of 'reading' an image and the theoretical issues involved in studying visual material.

The unit is taught by Harriet Batten-Foster.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. have acquired the basic tools with which to read and explore visual evidence.
  2. be aware of the major methodologies used in interpreting visual culture
  3. have developed an understanding of how visual evidence can contribute to the study of the Classical World.
  4. have had the opportunity to develop their communication skills in class discussion and in the composition of written work.

Teaching Information

22 Lectures/Seminars (including traditional lectures, seminars, small-group work, informal student presentations, visit to local museum/gallery)

Assessment Information

The assessment should know read:

  1. Personal Reaction (500 words) (20%)
  2. Visual Criticism (1,500) (30%)
  3. Group Project (2,000) (50%)

each assessing ILOs 1, 2, 3 and 4.

Reading and References

M. Beard & J. Henderson, Classical Art (2001)

J. Berger Ways of Seeing (1983)

J. Elsner, Imperial Rome & Christian Triumph (1998)

R. Howells, Visual Culture (2003)

M.A. Staniszewski, Believing is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art (1995)