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

Postgraduate Course: The Cultures and Politics of Display (HIAR11038)

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
SummaryThe course studies exhibition cultures and curation as a subject in itself. Curation is analysed as a practice with longstanding traditions and conventions of different kinds (the 'cultures' of the title) and value systems (the 'politics'). These cultures and politics are shown to vary in different situations. The course is intended to address a selection of examples from diverse contexts but also flag up key issues in curatorial thinking such as the question of equality and the social context of museums and other art institutions, the question of interpretation (how art is interpreted when on display), the dialogue between curatorial work and emancipatory social demands and/or how specific art practices and curating interact. The course addresses both contemporary and historical material and practices.

The course is taught by staff from within the University of Edinburgh with experience of curating, and, where appropriate, by curatorial staff from art institutions. Lectures by staff from outside the University of Edinburgh may take place in appropriate sites (e.g. museums) outside the University. The course involves a significant amount of group work, in seminar groups, and, where appropriate, in Autonomous Learning Groups.
Course description The MSc core course Cultures and Politics of Display involves studying the ways in which works of art are presented, contextualised and interpreted by their display in galleries, museums and other art spaces. You will have the opportunity to learn from theorists and practising curators and to consider subjects that range from cultural difference and the politics of display to how you curate for big museums. Where appropriate, the course incorporates on-site seminars where students and staff analyse the practical needs and conceptual assumptions underlying the displays of art from several periods and cultures, and in varied media, within particular architectural spaces. The course is divided into three parts: I. Exhibitions, Art Institutions, Curating: Critical Issues; II. Theory and Practice; and Part III. Specialised Study, which runs as two parallel strands, one focused on displays of pre-modern art; and one focused on contemporary displays and/or curating and normally delivered by an external curator/scholar appointed as the annual Fellow in Contemporary Art Theory and Curating.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements This course is restricted to students on the MSc programmes in History of Art
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 10, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Please contact the School directly for a breakdown of Assessment Methods
Additional Information (Assessment) 3,000 word essay on a topic provided by the course organiser in week 2 uploaded to Learn in Week 1.
Feedback Feedback is provided on formative assessments as follows: written or verbal feedback on class presentations and one-to-one feedback on essay plans.
Students are expected to assimilate all feedback and apply when working on their essays.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. A good general understanding of range of contemporary curatorial practices, from those in large art institutions, to alternative practices by individuals and small collectives.
  2. A good understanding of key terms and concepts in contemporary curatorial practice
  3. The ability to analyse an exhibition in detail in terms of key curatorial concepts
  4. The ability to make a reasoned value judgement about an exhibition
  5. The ability to work successfully in groups to produce collaborative texts, or similar
Reading List
Greenberg, R., B. W. Ferguson, S. Nairne, eds, Thinking about Exhibitions, Routledge 1996
Luke, T, Shows of Force: Power, Politics and Ideology in Art Exhibitions, Duke University Press 1992
Oż Neill, P, The Culture of Curating and the Curating of Culture(s), The MIT Press 2012
Prior, N, Museums and Modernity: Art Galleries and the Making of Modern Culture, Berg 2002
Reilly, M, Curatorial Activism: Towards an Ethic of Curating, Thomas & Hudson 2018
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsCuration,exhibition studies,politics,economics,creative industry,history of museum
Course organiserDr Angela Dimitrakaki
Course secretaryMrs Anna Johns
Tel: (0131 6)51 5740
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