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

Undergraduate Course: Surrealism, Violence and History (HIAR10161)

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
SummarySurrealism is one of the best recognised of avant-garde movements originating in the first half of the twentieth century, and its distinctive visual language, courting the irrationality of the dream world, sexual fantasy and the grotesque or bizarre in everyday reality have chimed with forms of popular culture. This course, however, focuses on an aspect of the movement that was of central importance in its formation and which has been the subject of recent scholarship: the idea of violent revolution and of violence itself as a surrealist practice.
Course description The key sources for the course are surrealist periodicals, combining text and image in striking ways, the work of specific artists such as Hans Bellmer, Salvador Dalí, André Masson and Pablo Picasso, and theories of violence. We shall consider what violence really is, whether the visual arts are in a privileged relationship to it, and what role Surrealism gave to it in the context of its insistence on the unconscious and its preoccupation with overturning social order. The course will cover the period from 1924, the year of the publication of the First Manifesto of Surrealism, to 1940 and the crisis of political ideas in the context of the Second World War.

The course is intended to provide a challenging and engaging approach to the most politically significant interwar avant-garde movement, Surrealism, by focusing on the role of violence in its revolutionary discourse and how this dimension informed artistic practices. Students will attend to the role of publications, photography and film as well as new practices in the visual arts such as automatic drawing and the constructed object. As such the course should be of interest to students across Edinburgh College of Art.
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. Demonstrate familiarity with aspects of the history of Surrealism, including its major figures and artists
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the importance of surrealist journals to the development of the movement
  3. Consider the political problems faced by Surrealism
  4. Examine new artistic practices such as the surrealist object and surrealist cinema
  5. Discuss complex theoretical material and challenging visual artefacts
Reading List
Gerard Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2004) see esp. pp.1 - 60.

Steven Harris, Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche (Cambridge University Press, 2004)

Jonathan P Eburne, Surrealism and the Art of Crime (London: Cornell UP, 2008)

D Riches (ed.), The Anthropology of Violence (Oxford: OUP, 1986)

Slavoj Zizek, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections (London: Profile, 2008)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

- define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
- seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
- process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
- compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
- write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
- be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
- think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
- maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
- think critically and constructively
KeywordsSurrealism,Violence,Psychoanalysis,Revolutionary Politics,Masson,Bataille,Bellmer,Dali,Picasso
Course organiserDr Dana MacFarlane
Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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