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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Centre for Open Learning : Creative Arts

Undergraduate Course: The civic statues of Edinburgh ¿ heroes, history and the city as pantheon (1685 ¿ 2015) (LLLA07160)

Course Outline
SchoolCentre for Open Learning CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryA lively investigation into the monumental portrait statues of Edinburgh, including Scott, Wellington, Guthrie, George IV and Ramsay. Combining site visits with classroom discussion, the course will explore the social and political context of these statues, their aesthetic form, and how they have developed ideological readings and historical significance.
Course description The following list is indicative; weekly content may alter slightly from year to year, depending on current exhibitions etc.

Week 1 Introduction ¿ How to read monumental portrait statue: History and its civic embodiment. How are statues drawn, modelled, carved or cast, and finally constructed?
Week 2 Old Edinburgh¿s Statues ¿ Charles II, Greyfriars Graveyard and the crisis of absolutism (site visit)
Week 3 Heroes of the Enlightenment: Scientists, philosophers, despots and friends of the people
Week 4 The Hanoverian Ascendancy: George IV and the Duke of Wellington (site visit)
Week 5 The Genius of the North: Sir Walter Scott, the invention of the historical novel and the role of national characters ¿ The Scott Monument and the Waverley Hotel (site visit)
Week 6 Victorian Philanthropy and Civic Renewal ¿ Evangelicals, missionaries and reformers (site visit)
Week 7 Invisible Others: Women, workers and the forgotten
Week 8 The Scottish National Portrait Gallery¿s External Portrait Statuary ¿ The institution of history (site visit)
Week 9 Contemporary Civic Portraiture: Edinburgh City Council Headquarters - Stephan Balkenhol¿s Everyman, 2006, Anthony Gormley¿s 6 Times figures in the Water of Leith, and Sandy Stoddart¿s retro-classicism of James Clerk-Maxwell and David Hume (site visit)
Week 10 Conclusion: The end of history and the failure of heroism

Monumental portrait statues dominate the streets, parks and squares of Edinburgh. They embody the key personalities, events and social forces that have shaped modern Scottish history. By examining these statues, students will come face to face with past eras mediated through the statues of exemplary individuals. From kings, nobles and politicians through philosophers, scientists, improvers and missionaries, and right up to the ¿everyman¿ of contemporary culture, these statues connect conceptions of the individual to wider conceptions of society as a whole.

The teaching methods used will be based on tutor introductions, mini-lectures, student-led object description and analysis (from slide, or in front of the statues themselves), question and answer, student presentations, reviews of suggested reading, staged small group debates and short games. There will also be coaching sessions for note-taking, picture analysis and essay writing.

Students will also be expected to develop an overview of the institution and development of the civic pantheon. This will involve examining the propagandistic and ideological functions of civic statues and their identification with newly emerging élites in Scottish history. The course will also consider the significant omission of women and the working classes from this panoply of heroes.

Students will be asked to analyse and assess the aesthetic style of each statue under consideration. This will introduce how the choice of artist, pose, costume, and scenario for the portrait statue contributes to its intended message. They will learn to identify the artistic styles of classicism, naturalism and realism as they are employed by the statues¿ sculptors to deliver idealised conceptions of the sitters or believable and individuated likenesses.

The students will investigate the commissioning of artists, the public subscription and funding of the statues, their choice of location and their subsequent histories as civic objects.

The course will involve a mixture of trips to the statues and class-based sessions. It intends to hold at least half of the class sessions in front of these statues as they stand in Edinburgh¿s streets. These site visits will focus on the centre of the city, the Old Town, Princes' Street, Calton Hill and Greyfriars Churchyard.

There will be quite a lot of walking and potential students should be aware of this when signing up for the course.

We will also address how these statues have taken on a life in the city's historical experience and have crossed the path of writers, visitors to Edinburgh and the individuals on the course. Overall the course aims to connect, physically and intellectually, with both civic and national narratives, as embodied in the marble and bronze sculptures that make contemporary Edinburgh a living spectacle of the past.

Students should display all the learning outcomes in the summative assessment. Students¿ progress with learning outcomes will be assessed in the formative exercise (non-compulsory).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs 0
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate, through the summative assessment, the ability to describe, analyse and interpret monumental portrait statues.
  2. Demonstrate, through the summative assessment, an ability to contextualise public portrait statues in relation to their specific eras, political affiliations and formal aesthetics.
  3. Demonstrate, through the summative assessment, an ability to discuss, compare and assess portrait statues in relation to their role in establishing civic and national narratives.
Reading List
Turnbull, M., 1989. Monuments and Statues of Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Chambers.
Simpson I.R. and Stephen, K., 1982. Civic Stone: An illustrated guide to memorials and statues in central Edinburgh. Edinburgh: Scotland¿s Cultural Heritage
Cookson, J.E.. 2004. ¿The Edinburgh and Glasgow Duke of Wellington Statues: Early Nineteenth-Century Unionist Nationalism as a Tory Project¿, Scottish Historical Review. Vol. 83, 1 Issue 215, pp. 23-40.

Brilliant, R., 1991. Portraiture. London: Reaktion
Choay, F., 2001. The Invention of the Historic Monument. Cambridge: CUP
Baker, S., 2008. Surrealism, History and Revolution. Bern: Verlag Peter Lang
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Synthesis of a large body of material; handling of sources; analysis of sources; oral communication.
Special Arrangements N/A
Study Abroad N/A
KeywordsMonument,statue,Edinburgh,art history
Course organiserDr Sally Crumplin
Course secretaryMr Benjamin McNab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832
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