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Unit information: Approaching the Object in 2020/21

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Unit name Approaching the Object
Unit code HART10007
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Ann Matchette
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

In this unit we will be introducing you to some of the key skills that will carry you through your degree. The most important aim of the unit is to encourage you to read, write and think as an art historian and to introduce you to the challenges and the excitement of actually exploring the discipline yourself. This unit will be taught by a series of lectures and seminars. Everyone attends the 20 hours of lectures which include a large number of field trips within Bristol. You are then divided into smaller groups for the accompanying seminars. By the end of the unit you should have acquired key skills in visual analysis and an understanding of the core concepts used by art historians. You should understand what is distinctive about the study of art history and understand why art historians study their subject in the ways they do. You should also be able to reflect upon the complex relationship between evidence and interpretation, and to think about the nature of academic debate.

Intended Learning Outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate an understanding of different approaches to the history of art, and be able to reflect critically upon these different approaches;
  2. utilise iconographical skills and conduct visual analysis;
  3. avoid plagiarism in their own work;
  4. demonstrate good presentation skills, appropriate to level 4.

Teaching Information

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities that may include site visits, 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

Plagiarism test (students are required to pass this in order to complete the unit) [ILO 3]

One 2000-word reflective journal (50%) [ILOs 1, 2]

One presentation (50%) [ILOs 1, 2, 4]

Reading and References

Robert S. Nelson and Richard Shiff (eds.), Critical Terms for Art History (2nd ed., University of Chicago Press, 2003)

Donald Preziosi and Claire Farago, Grasping the World: the Idea of the Museum (Ashgate, 2003)

Tony Bennett, 'Civic Seeing: Museums and the Organization of Vision', in A Companion to Museum Studies, edited by Sharon Macdonald (Oxford, 2006)

Carol Duncan, Civilizing Rituals: inside public art museums (London, 1995)

Marcia Pointon (ed.), Art Apart: Art Institutions and Ideology across England and North America