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

Undergraduate Course: Iconography and Iconology: Critical Approaches to Interpretation and Visual Analysis in Medieval and Renaissance Works o (HIAR10133)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will operate a case-study approach, with each seminar driven by the critical analysis of works of key art historians in the field of iconographical and iconological studies, including Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofksy, Edgar Wind, Ernst Gombrich, Jonathan Alexander, Michael Baxandall, and Salvatore Settis. Class discussions will be framed around pertinent medieval and Renaissance art works that have formed the focus of these scholars¿ outputs, such as Giorgione¿s Tempesta, Jan van Eyck¿s Arnolfini Portrait, the Limbourgs¿ Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Albrecht Dürer¿s Melencolia I, and Raphael¿s Stanza della Segnatura. The course will also draw upon a selection of other works of art relevant to the methodological approaches and key concerns (political, historical/contextual, gendered, etc.), and this in both the classroom and the art gallery setting. By embedding the course within the wider field of visual analysis ¿ such as the contributions of the likes of John Berger and Roland Barthes ¿ the outcome will be a firm grasp of the issues involved in unpacking the ¿messaging¿ inherent to imaging systems, as well as a close critical handling of a selection of the most significant approaches within art history.
Course description 1: ¿Reading Images¿? An introduction to iconography and iconology
2: The need for interpretation: iconology and the medieval image
3: The mode of interpretation: Erwin Panofsky and Albrecht Dürer¿s Melencolia I
4: The content of interpretation: Aby Warburg, Edgar Wind and Humanist Mythologies
5: Interpretation in context: Ernst Gombrich and Raphael¿s Stanza della Segnatura
6: Testing interpretation: selected art works in the National Gallery of Scotland
7: The limits of interpretation: Michael Baxandall, the ¿Period Eye¿ and cultural conditions
8: The interpretative mystery: Salvatore Settis and Giorgione¿s Tempesta
9: The problem of interpretation: Jan van Eyck¿s Arnolfini Portrait
10: Conclusions? Interpreting iconology in the expanded field
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. On successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

    1. Explain the context, function and use of the key art works under consideration.
  2. 2. Discuss the selected theoretical approaches in terms of their usefulness for the selected case-studies.
  3. 3. Distinguish between the various iconographical and iconological theoretical approaches in a holistic manner and describe the interactions between the different scholarly approaches under consideration.
  4. 4. Engage critically and analytically with a wide range of sources, both textual (English-language) and visual.
  5. 5. Make connections between iconological approaches to the history of art within the expanded field (art history, history, social and political history, gendered) in order to engage with the notion of interpreting ¿meaning¿.
Reading List
Select bibliography:
BARTHES, Roland and HEATH, Stephen (ed. and trans), Image Music Text (London: Fontana Press, 1977)
BAXANDALL, Michael, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy (Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 1974, c.1972)
BERGER, John, Ways of Seeing (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972)
BRYSON, Norman, HOLLY, Michael Ann, MOXEY, Keith (eds.), Visual Theory. Painting and Interpretation (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991)
GOMBRICH, Ernst, Gombrich on the Renaissance, Vol. 2: Symbolic Images (London: Phaidon, 1972)
GOMBRICH, Ernst, Symbolic Images: Studies in the Art of the Renaissance (3rd edition. Oxford: Phaidon, 1985)
HATT, Michael and KLONK, Charlotte, Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods (Manchester/New York: Manchester University Press, 2006)
MITCHELL, W.J.T. Mitchell, Iconology; Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press: University of Chicago Press, c.1986)
MOXEY, Keith and HOLLY, Michael Ann (eds.), Meanings and Methods in Art History (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
PANOFKSY Erwin, Meaning in the Visual Arts (Garden City/New York: Doubleday, 1955. See also later editions)
PANOFSKY, Erwin, Studies in Iconology: Humanistic Themes in the Art of the Renaissance (First published 1939, new edition Boulder/Oxford: Westview Press, 1972). See especially Chapter 1, 'Introductory', which was also published in Panofsky's Meaning in the Visual Arts.
PODRO, Michael, The Critical Historians of Art (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1982)
SETTIS, Salvatore (trans. BIANCHINI, Ellen), Giorgione¿s Tempest: Interpreting the Hidden Subject (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990)
WARBURG, Aby, The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 1999)
WIND, Edgar, Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance (London: Faber, 1958, 1968. Also New York/Toronto: W.W. Norton/G.J.McLeod, c.1968/c.1958; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Advanced visual skills, communication skills (written and oral), research skills, analytical and interpretative skills, logical thought processes, ability to assess and evaluate sources, study independently and to deadlines
Additional Class Delivery Information 1 x 2 hour Seminar per week
KeywordsIconography, iconology, medieval, Renaissance, critical analysis, methodological approaches, politic
Course organiserMiss Irene Mariani
Tel: (0131 6)50 5254
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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