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

Undergraduate Course: Bernini: Technologies of Wonder (HIAR10160)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAcross the arts, Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598-1680) drew on a range of materials, techniques, and visual effects to produce sculptures, spaces, and scenographies that contemporaries regarded as visions of wonder and miracle. This course examines Bernini┐s career and historical reception by focusing on the artist┐s materials and processes, the cultural and artistic environments in which he worked, and the practice-based means and meanings of Baroque ┐wonder┐ and ┐spectacle┐.
Course description This course treats Bernini's art and artistry through inter-medial perspectives, considering his key place in the formation of a 'Baroque' visual language across the arts of architecture, sculpture and painting. In his position as chief artist to the papacy, with responsibility for Rome's public face as well as for the most intimate decorations of the pope's person, Bernini used all the arts to forge a style able to convey a dazzling 'magnificence'. This comprised also the ephemeral arts of occasion, used to outfit the city and the Vatican for the high holy days of the church calendar, for state funerals and visits of foreign princes and dignitaries, with which Bernini was charged. His consummate skill lay in the ability to command all aspects of his artistry, ranging from confectionery dinner table sculptures in sugar and marzipan to theatre sets and performances for papal guests, but also major feats of hydraulic engineering for example in fountains fed by newly-restored aqueducts, or the raising of mighty obelisks and bell towers.

Across the arts, Bernini drew on a lexicon of visual effects through the technological innovations of spectacle, to produce scenographies that contemporaries regarded as visions of wonder and miracle. The course probes the practice-based means and meanings of Baroque wonder, and its historiographical reception, in order to arrive at renewed frameworks for the study of 'Baroque' style. Students can expect a contextualized and interdisciplinary learning experience that draws on a rich literature on relationships between visual and performance arts, and between architecture and engineering technology, in approaching the study of the baroque art of mise-en-scene.

The seminar format will encourage active participation. Teaching will be delivered through short lectures, class discussion led by the course organiser, group work and informal student presentations. You will be expected to prepare for each seminar by reading key set texts and undertaking independent research on specified topics. Museum and gallery visits will be built into the seminars as appropriate
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
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesThis course is not open to exchange and visiting students.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  21
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Formative Assessment Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 24, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 150 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) You will be assessed for this course in two ways:
(1) 2,500 word ESSAY (worth 50% of your overall mark)
(2) 1 x 24 hour online EXAM (worth 50% of your overall mark)

Relationship between Assessment and Learning Outcomes:
Learning outcomes will be tested equally in both components of assessment.

You will be asked to prepare a 10-minute spoken presentation to deliver to the class. This will take place at the beginning of the second hour. You will receive verbal feedback at a one-to-one meeting with the instructor afterwards. The work done for the presentation will contribute directly either to the essay or to the exam.


Summative assessment will be in the form of a 2500-word essay, and a written exam, to be taken in the examination period. For the essay, you will be supported to develop this in a one-to-one meeting beforehand. Written summative feedback on student essays will be provided, followed by a one-to-one meeting on request.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)24 hour online examination0:05
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify and discuss Bernini's major works in relation to the period in which they were made and viewed, in oral and written form.
  2. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of Baroque art in relation to broader cultural production of the period, in oral and written form.
  3. Analyse and discuss relationships between artistic production and technological development in early modernity through the example of Bernini, in oral and written form.
  4. Compare analytically the concepts of spectacle and wonder in Baroque culture, in oral and written form.
  5. Be able to advance a reflective and nuanced argument based on sound knowledge and research in academic form.
Reading List
Baldinucci, Filippo. The Life of Bernini, trans. Catherine Enggass. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2006

Hibbard, Howard. Bernini. New York: Penguin, 1965.

Marder, Tod. Bernini and the Art of Architecture. New York/London: Abbeville Press, 1998.

Wittkower, Rudolf. Gian Lorenzo Bernini: the Sculptor of the Roman Baroque. London: Phaidon, 1966.

Warwick, Genevieve. Bernini: Art as Theatre. New Haven/London: Yale Universty Press, 2012.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis
Analytical thinking and the development of a clear and sustained argument
Independent research
Presentation and communication skills
Organization and planning
KeywordsBernini,Baroque,technology,wonder,mise-en-scene,ephemeral arts,scenography
Course organiserMs Rachel Boyd
Tel: (0131 6)51 5800
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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