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Unit information: The Artist (Level C Special Topic) in 2021/22

Unit name The Artist (Level C Special Topic)
Unit code HART10209
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Gowrley
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

Unit directors - Freya Gowrley and Sophie Kelly

As a discipline, art history has frequently moved between the study of the cultural products of a given historical era and a study of its cultural producers. Since the publication of Giorgio Vasari's highly influential Lives of the Artists in 1550, biography has been central to art historical studies and continues to play a dominate role in art historical publishing and exhibition policy. The identity of the artist, however, has never been stable. From the anonymity of the medieval craftsperson to the explicitly claimed 'originality' of the Modernist 'artist-genius' the notion of what might constitute an artist has frequently been debated and shifting gendered and socio-historical conditions have demanded distinct identities for such an individual. More recently, theoretical interventions have proffered a critique of the very notion of the 'dominant author' and emphasised instead the collective nature of all artistic production. These debates will form the context of this unit.


  • To introduce students to a broad theme within art history and to explore this theme in a broad chronological context.
  • To introduce students to working with visual and textual sources
  • To introduce students to issues relating to setting visual and textual sources in their wider context
  • To introduce students to the practice of learning independently within a small-group context
  • To introduce students to debates about the dominant author versus the collective nature of all artistic production.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate an understanding of current art historical study and research
  2. work with both visual and textual sources
  3. articulate an understanding about what might constitute an artist and relate these to shifting socio-historical conditions.

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 2000-word summative essay (75%) [ILOs 1-3]

One timed assessment (25%) [ILOs 1-3]


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. HART10209).

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.