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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Postgraduate Course: The Aesthetics of Difference: Post-Colonial Perspectives from the 19th to the 21st century (HIAR11095)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course explores visual representations of otherness, ranging from European Orientalist traditions in the nineteenth century to modern and contemporary responses to cultures in the Middle East and Africa. It examines the relations between historical Orientalist narratives and new constructs of difference in the arts today. The course provides students with a critical understanding of post-colonial theory and the debates around aesthetic representations of difference in the colonial and post-colonial period. The course will not only interrogate Western representations but also consider ways in which non-Western artists and curators have responded to cultural stereotypes.
Course description This course is concerned with the poetics and politics of representing otherness in art and visual culture. It takes as its point of departure the Orientalist traditions in nineteenth-century representations of people, places and objects of the Middle East and the Maghreb, and then widens the scope to examine modern and contemporary responses to the Middle East and Sub-Saharan Africa. What are the relations between historical Orientalist narratives and new discourses of racial and cultural difference today? Course discussion will be informed by post-colonial theory and key thinkers (Fanon, Césaire, Said, Bhabha, etc.) and concepts, which will be introduced in the first part of the course. Said suggested that the Muslim East is understood by the West in an essentialist manner, and that the very act of describing the 'other' justified and perpetuated European power in the Middle East, a theory that has been applied to other cases of regions colonised by the West. Yet, such assumptions have been queried over the last decades, and it has been argued that representations of difference could also be shaped by concerns and impulses that have little or nothing to do with (colonial) politics.

Adopting a flexible historical and geographical framework, and using specific case studies, students will trace the translational processes that are at work when artists, architects, curators, and film-makers transform the foreign into terms and idioms that can be understood by their target audiences. Case studies include key events, architectural projects, artists (such as Jean-Léon Gérôme), and a visit to the National Library of Scotland will introduce students to key fine art publications, such as Owen Jones's 'Grammar of Ornament'. The course also opens post-colonial perspectives on less familiar cases, foregrounding examples that unsettle the notion of a hegemonic Western Orientalist discourse as understood by Said. For instance, nineteenth-century and early twentieth-century Turkish or Maghreb artists, who were at once object and subject of the oriental gaze, reveal some of the paradoxes within Orientalism. The discussion will lead on to modern and contemporary constructs of otherness. Case studies will cover colonial representations at world fairs and exhibitions, including resistance to such displays (such as the exhibition 'The Truth about the Colonies', 1931, or Chris Marker's film, 'Les Statues meurent aussi', 1954). In the post-colonial period, what are the curatorial issues when representing artists and objects from former colonies? Why did the exhibition 'Les Magiciens de la Terre' (1989) provoke controversy? How does post-colonialism inform the work of contemporary artists, such as the Lebanese-born Mona Hatoum, or the Beninese artist Georges Adéagbo? How do non-Western artists negotiate their position in a global art scene without being marketed in terms of the exotic? These are some of the questions that will be dealt with in this course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2019/20, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  18
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1.5, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The course will be assessed through in-class presentation (30% weighting) and an essay (70% weighting).

The presentation will last 10-15 minutes and feedback/grades will be provided that encompass your performance in class throughout the course, encouraging strong engagement in discussion and weekly preparation. (30% weighting)

Students will devise their own essay question and prepare a bibliography together with formal abstract including detailed information on the proposed topic, research methodologies and essay structure. (70% weighting).
Feedback A one-to-one feed-forward session will be arranged for each student during which material relating to the presentation and essay will be discussed and further direction given. Additionally, students are given written feedback and an individual feedback meeting on their essays.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate a specialist and integrated knowledge of post-colonial theory and visual representations of otherness, from nineteenth-century Orientalist traditions to visual responses to racial and cultural difference in the modern and contemporary period.
  2. Demonstrate skills in visual and theoretical analysis in relation to key works and visual displays that deal in cultural translation between the nineteenth and the twenty-first century
  3. More effectively structure arguments which synthesise a range of complex theoretical positions and, in some cases, present original research and arguments
Reading List
Sample Reading List (to be expanded)

Beaulieu, Jill and Roberts, Mary, Orientalism's Interlocutors: Painting, Architecture, Photography (Durham: Duke University Press, 2002)

Benjamin, Roger, Orientalist aesthetics: art, colonialism, and French North Africa, 1880-1930 (Berkeley ; London : University of California Press, 2003)

Bernstein, M. and Studlar, G. (eds.), Visions of the East. Orientalism in Film (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997)

Bhaba, H., The Location of Culture (London, New York: Routledge, 2004, new edition)

Çelik, Zynep, Displaying the Orient: Architecture of Islam at Nineteenth-century World's Fairs (Berkely; Oxford: University of California Press, 1992)

Downey, A., 'Curating Africa, 'Arica Remix' and the Categorical Dilemma', Wasafiri, Issue 46, 2005, p. 48

Enwezor, O. and Oguibe, O., Introduction in Reading the Contemporary. African Art from Theory to the Marketplace, Institute of International Visual Arts (inIVA) and MIT Press, London, 1999.

James Clifford, The Predicament of Culture: Twentieth-Century Ethnography, Literature and Art (London, 1988)

Crinson, Mark, Empire Building. Orientalism and Victorian Architecture (London, 1996)

Grimaldo Grigsby, Darcy, 'Orients and Colonies. Delacroix's Algerian Harem' in The Cambridge Companion to Delacroix, Cambridge, pp.69-87.

Goetz, I., Schumacher, R. and Michelberger L. (eds.), Mona Hatoum (Hatje Cantz, 2011).

Hackforth Jones, J. and Roberts, Mary, Edges of Empire. Orientalism and Visual Culture (John Wiley and Sons, 2005)

Heide, Claudia, 'The Alhambra in Britain. Between Foreignisation and Domestication', Art in Translation, vol. 2.2 (July 2010)

Inankur, Z., Lewis, R. and Roberts, M. (eds), The Poetics and Politics of Place, Ottoman Istanbul and British Orientalism (Washington: Washington University Press, 2011)

Kennedy, Valery, Edward Said: a critical introduction (Malden, Mass., 2000)

Kenney, L. and Çelik, Z, 'Ethnography and Exhibitionism at the Expositions Universelles', Assemblage (December 1990): 35-58.

Konaté, Yacouba, 'Dak'Art. The Making of Panafricanism and the Contemporary', translated from French, Art in Translation, The Reception of African Art (special issue) Vol 5.4 (December 2014), pp. 487-529

MacKenzie, John, Orientalism: History, Theory and the Arts (Manchester University Press, 1995)

McClintock, Amy, Imperial Leather, Gender, and Sexuality in the Colonial Contest (Routledge, 1995)

Said, E., Orientalism, London, (1978), new edition 2003
Culture and Imperialism, 1993

Pinder, Kimberley, Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History (London: Routledge, 2002)

Ramamurthy, Anandi, Imperial Persuaders: Images of Africa and Asia in British Advertising (Manchester University Press, 2003)

Richardson, Michael, Otherness in Hollywood Cinema (Continuum, 2010)

Bill Ashcroft (ed.)., The Post-Colonial Studies Reader (London: Routledge, 2005)

"Third Text", Special Issue Magiciens de la Terre: Les Cahiers, n. 6, Spring 1989.

Wilson, Ernest J. "Orientalism: A Black Perspective." Journal of Palestine Studies 10, 2 (Winter 1981): 59-69.

Yeazell, Ruth Bernard, Harems of the Minds (Yale University Press, 2000)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Many of the skills you will develop will be transferrable. These include:
- Independent research (locate, access and interpret information)
- Critical analysis of visual and textual material
- Presentation (oral and written)
- Communication
- Organisation (the ability to plan workloads and meet deadlines)
KeywordsArt,Visual Culture,Orientalism,Neo-Orientalism,Post-Colonial theory,Cultural Translation
Course organiserDr Claudia Hopkins
Tel: (0131 6)50 4118
Course secretaryMrs Anna Johns
Tel: (0131 6)51 5744
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