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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : Art

Undergraduate Course: What is the commons? Participation, objects, and place in contemporary art (ARTX10060)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe concept of the commons will be discussed through the lens of contemporary art and visual culture, considering interdisciplinary readings and perspectives from across the arts and humanities. Historically the commons was a space given to the poor and needy, to use as a shared resource. Today we use this word to talk about both physical and digital resources which are shared and openly available to all. In the early 21st century, this idea has been discussed in many different fields - in this course we will consider the commons in relation to artistic practices of sharing.

Approaching this topic through assigned reading in weekly seminars, students will be given the opportunity to reflect upon their own disciplinary or practice-based position through theory on the commons.

Course description This course will engage with the broad concept of the commons as it relates to visual culture. Through weekly reading groups, students will be given the opportunity to engage with perspectives from Ecology, Marxist approaches, Political Philosophy, Curation, Post-colonialism, and Self-Organisation among others.

As we work together on this course, we will seek to understand the breadth of this concept from its origins up until the present day in concepts such as Creative Commons.

Students will be given the opportunity to self-reflexively examine their own work OR particular topics of interest (if desired). Echoing the self-organised approach to the commons in art and visual culture, they may also conduct group investigations by organising their own event seminar or screening which they can reflect on as a study report.

This is a lecture-based course, with accompanying student led seminars. Each lecture will be for one hour with a one hour seminar scheduled afterwards.

We will engage together to discuss the commons in reading group-style seminars.

Students will be encouraged to work together to understand and develop ideas around self-organisation, alternative models of producing and distributing resources (e.g. through events, publishing or discussions). Through participation in weekly seminars with set-readings we will consider the commons perspective - to be reflexively open and participate in group engagement with a variety of concepts.

Indicative themes include: the concept of the commons as an interdisciplinary study, ecological commons, feminist commons practice, community and discursive practices, philosophies of the common.
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 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, External Visit Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formative Assessment: Essay 1000 words
Submitted mid semester approx. week 6
(0%) - feedback/feedforward will be given based on Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3.

Summative Assessment: Commons essay or Practice-based report
4000 words
Submitted approx. week 11/12
(100%) - assessment will be based on Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3.
Feedback Formative Essay - submitted mid semester approx. week 6 via Learn Written/verbal feedback/forward via Learn in 15 working days of submission
Summative Essay (May optionally take form of report on project/event) - submitted approx. week 12 via Learn. Grades and written feedback via Learn in 15 working days of submission
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically analyse aspects of commons as a mode of study and practice.
  2. Critically reflect on the concept of the commons in written form.
  3. Demonstrate engagement with a wide range of relevant literature relating to the commons, to build your own nuanced response to practice or research in written form.
Reading List
Condorelli, C. (2014) The Company She Keeps. United Kingdom: Book Works.
Federici, S. (2004) Caliban and the Witch: Women, The Body, and Primitive Accumulation. United Kingdom: Autonomedia
Harney S and Moten F. (2013) The undercommons : fugitive planning & black study. Wivenhoe ; New York ; Port Watson: Minor Compositions.
Illich, I. (1983). Silence is a Commons: Computers Are Doing to Communication What Fences Did to Pastures and Cars Did to Streets. CoEvolution Quarterly, Winter.
Mies, M. and V. Bennholdt-Thomsen (2001). "Defending, Reclaiming and Reinventing the Commons." Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue canadienne d'études du développement 22(4): 997-1023.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Demonstrate and/or work with:
Knowledge that covers and integrates many principle areas, features, terminology and conventions of the commons as a practice in contemporary art. Detailed knowledge and understanding in one or more specialisms (related to the thematic concerns of the course) informed by subject knowledge of the commons. Knowledge and understanding of the ways in which commons projects are developed, including in techniques of enquiry - through reading groups, events and/or personal study

Practice: Applied Knowledge, Skills and Understanding
In using a wide range of professional skills and practices associated with contemporary art according with the commons theme. In using a few specialised practices which are at the forefront of the sector of contemporary art in discursive or engaged practice informed by the commons. In executing a defined project of research or investigation on the commons themes from the lectures on the course, and implementing relevant outcomes (practice or theory)

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others
Critically identify, define, conceptualise and analyse complex problems and issues related within commons theory itself, and in its interaction with contemporary art as a practice. Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills and practices in thinking through forms of commons practice and their relation to the student's existing work and that of the field of art around them.
KeywordsCommons,Art,Visual Culture
Course organiserDr Emma Balkind
Course secretaryDr Eadaoin Lynch
Tel: (0131 6)51 5735
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