Skip to main content

Unit information: Religious Art (Reflective Art History Unit) in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Religious Art (Reflective Art History Unit)
Unit code HART30008
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dent
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The mixture of art and religion forms a powerful cocktail. Even today, the majority of people probably encounter works of art in places of worship rather than museums and galleries. For many of these people, images are a source of supernatural power, either as channels for the divine, or as living objects in their own right. By working through a series of case studies, in this course we will be reflecting on some of the big questions that surround religious art: How do you make an image of a god? What do you get out of praying in front of a painting or sculpture? Is there still space for the religious image in the modern, secular world?

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will have (1) developed a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of religious imagery in a number of different contexts; (2) in-depth understanding of the phenomenology of art and ritual 3) detailed and critical understanding of the historical, physical, ethical, theological, and liturgical contexts of this art; (4) demonstrated the ability to identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument. Additionally, as part of a level H/6 unit, students will be expected to (5) display high level skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing material and ideas.

Teaching Information

1 x 2-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Information

1 x 24 hour take-home examination. The extended form of this unseen assessment provides the opportunity to assess the depth and detail of students’ understanding and attainment of ILOs (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5) at level H/6.

Reading and References

Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian materiality: an essay on religion in late medieval Europe, Brooklyn, 2011 Amy Knight Powell, Depositions: scenes from the late medieval church and the modern museum, Brooklyn, 2012 Gervase Rosser and Jane Garnett, Spectacular Miracles: Transforming Images in Italy from the Renaissance to the Present, London, 2013 Bissera Pentcheva, The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual and the Senses in Byzantium, University Park, 2010 Megan Holmes, The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence, New Haven and London, 2013