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

Postgraduate Course: Surrealism, Violence and History (HIAR11083)

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
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 Surrealist Manifesto, to 1962, when Georges Bataille published his strange work of art history, The Tears of Eros.

The course is intended to provide a challenging and engaging approach to the most politically significant interwar avant-garde movement, Surrealism, by focussing 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 module should be of interest to students across ECA. The course also ensures balance of coverage in the provision with the modern/contemporary curating MSC, and prepares students for the theoretically informed discussion of post-1945 avant-gardes.

Week 1 Course overview and introduction: Manifestos of Surrealism

Week 2 Typologies of Violence: Philosophical, Psychoanalytic and Sociological

Week 3 Surrealism and Criminality

Week 4 Violence in Documents: Georges Bataille and Surrealist Photography

Week 5 Violence according to Picasso


Week 7 Masson: violence and misogyny

Week 8 Bellmer: pornography and representation

Week 9 Cinematic Violence (Dali and Bunuel)

Week 10 The Violent Object: Giacometti

Week 11 Leiris: Manhood and Masochistic violence

Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesAvailable to visiting History of Art students with prior approval by course secretary
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. become familiar with aspects of the history of Surrealism, including its major figures and artists
  2. understand 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
General Background

Dawn Ades, Dada and Surrealism Reviewed (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1978)
Fiona Bradley, Surrealism, (London: Tate, 2000)
Gerard Durozoi, History of the Surrealist Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2004) see esp. pp.1 - 60.
Matthew Gale, Dada and Surrealism, (London:Phaidon, 1997)
Kim Grant, Surrealism and the Visual Arts: Theory and Reception, (Cambridge: CUP, 2005)
Steven Harris, Surrealist Art and Thought in the 1930s: Art, Politics, and the Psyche (Cambridge University Press, 2004)
David Hopkins, Dada and Surrealism: A Very Short Introduction, (Oxford: OUP, 2004)
Rosalind Krauss et al, L¿Amour Fou, : Photography and Surrealism, (London: Hayward Gallery, 1985)
David Lomas, The Haunted Self: surrealism, psychoanalysis, subjectivity (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000)
Johanna Malt, Obscure Objects of Desire: Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics (Oxford: OUP, 2004)
Neil Matheson, ed., The Sources of Surrealism: Art in Context
(Aldershot; Burlington; Vt: Lund Humphries, 2006)
Jennifer Mundy (ed), Desire Unbound, (London: Tate, 2002)
Maurice Nadeau, History of Surrealism, translated by Richard Howard, (Cape, London, 1968)
José Pierre (ed.), Tractes surréalistes et déclarations collectives, tome I 1922-1939, (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1980)
Michael Richardson and Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Surrealism Against the Current: Tracts and Declarations (London: Pluto Press, 2001)
William Rubin, Dada, Surrealism and their Heritage (New York: MoMA, 1968)
Raymond Spiteri and Donald LaCoss, eds.,
Surrealism, Politics and Culture (Ashgate: Aldershot, 2003)
Ian Walker, City Gorged with Dreams, (Manchester: MUP, 2002)

Bataille, Leiris and Documents

Ades and Baker (eds), Undercover Surrealism: Georges Bataille and Documents, (London: Hayward Gallery, 2006)
Allan Stoekl (ed), Georges, Bataille, Visions of Excess, Selected Writings 1927-1939, Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 1985
Georges Bataille, Tears of Eros, (San Francisco: City Lights, 1989)
¿The Use Value of Documents, special issue of Papers of Surrealism (no.7) edited by Charlie Miller, 2007
Denis Hollier, Against Architecture: The Writings of Georges Bataille, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT 1992)
Denis Hollier (ed.), The College of Sociology, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1988)
Denis Hollier, ¿On Equivocation¿, October 55, Winter 1990
Georges Didi-Huberman, La resemblance informe, ou le gai savoir selon Bataille, (Paris: Macula, 1995)
Michel Leiris, Manhood: A Journey from Childhood to the Fierce Order of Virility, (London: University of Chicago Press, 1992)
Benjamin Noys, Georges Bataille: A Critical Introduction, (London: Pluto, 2000)
Julia Kelly, Art, Ethnography and the Life of Objects, c.1925-35, (Manchester: MUP, 2007)
Louise Tythacott, Surrealism and the Exotic (London: Routledge, 2003).
Breton, André, Manifestoes of Surrealism, (University of Michigan Press, 1972)


Acéphale (Paris: Jean Michel Place, 1999)
Giorgio Agamben, Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life (trans D Heller-Roazen, Stanford UP, 1998)
Simon Baker, Surrealism, History and Revolution, (Oxford, Peter Lang, 2007)
Walter Benjamin, ¿On the Concept of History¿, in Howard Eiland and Michael Jennings (eds.), Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings,Vol 4: 1938-1940, (Cambridge, Mass.:Harvard UP), 2006, pp.389-400
Neil Cox, ¿A Painting by Antoine Caron¿, Papers of Surrealism, 7, The Use-Value of Documents, November 2007.
Neil Cox and Greengrass, M., ¿Painting Power: Antoine Caron¿s Massacres of the Triumvirate¿, in G Murdock et al (eds.) ¿Ritual and Violence: Natalie Zemon Davis and Early Modern France¿, Past and Present, Supplement Series, Oxford: OUP, 2012, pp.241-274.
Neil Cox, ¿Critique of Pure Desire, Or When the Surrealists were Right¿, in J Mundy (ed.) Surrealism: Desire Unbound, London: Tate Publishing, September 2001, pp. 245-273.
Jonathan P Eburne, Surrealism and the Art of Crime (London: Cornell UP, 2008)
Henaff, ¿Naked Terror: Political Violence, Libertine Violence (Marquis de Sade)¿, Sub-Stance, 86, 1998, pp.5-32
D Riches (ed.)The Anthropology of Violence (Oxford: OUP, 1986)
Robert Walz, Pulp Surrealism: Insolent Popular Culture in the Early Twentieth-Century Paris (London: University of California Press, 2000)
Slavoj Zizek, Violence: Six Sideways Reflections (London: Profile, 2008)

Salvador Dalí/Cinema

Dawn Ades, Salvador Dalí, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1995)
Dawn Ades, Salvador Dalí: The Centenary Retrospective (London: Thames and Hudson, 2004)
Haim Finkelstein, The Collected Writings of Salvador Dalí, Cambridge: CUP, 1998
Matthew Gale (ed.), Dali and Film, (London:Tate, 2007)
Paul Hammond (ed.), The Shadow and its Shadow: Surrealist Writings on Cinema, (San Francisco, City Lights Books, 2000)
Paul Hammond, L¿Age d¿Or, (London: British Film Institute, 1997)
Elliott H King, Dalí, Surrealism and Cinema, (Oldcastle Books, 2007)
Michael Richardson, Surrealism and Cinema (Oxford: Berg, 2006)
Robert Short, The Age of Gold: Dalí, Buñuel, Artaud: Surrealist cinema, (Los Angeles: Solar Press, 2008)


Elizabeth Cowling, ¿¿Proudly we proclaim him as one of us¿ Breton Picasso and the Surrealist Movement¿, Art History, Vol. 8, No. 1, (March) 1985
CFB Miller, ¿Bataille with Picasso: Crucifixion (1930) and Apocalypse¿ Papers of Surrealism 7, 2007
CFB Miller, ¿Rotten Sun¿, Art History, Vol. 34, No. 2, (April) 2011
A Baldessari et al, The Surrealist Picasso, (Paris: Flammarion, 2006)
John Golding, ¿Picasso and Surrealism¿, Visions of the Modern, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp.210-245
C Green, Picasso: Architecture and Vertigo, (London: Yale University Press, 2005)
Cox, N., ¿Marat/Sade/Picasso¿, Art History, 17: 3, (1994), pp.383-417.
T J Clark, Picasso and Truth,


Dawn Ades, Andre Masson (London: Academy Editions, 1994)
Cox, N., ¿The Origin of Masson¿s Massacres¿, Umeni, LV: 5, (2007), pp.387-399.
Andre Masson, Anatomy of my Universe (New York: Curt Valentin, 1943)
André Masson, Le Rebelle du surréalisme, Ecrits (Paris: Herman, 1971)
William Rubin and Carolyn Lanchner, Andre Masson (New York: MoMA, 1977)
Masson: Massacres, (Paris: Seuil, 2001)
Laurie Monahan, ¿Violence in Paradise: André Masson¿s Massacres¿, Art History, November 2001 (Vol.24, Issue 5) pp.707-724


Hans Bellmer, (London: Whitechapel Art Gallery, 2006)
Hans Bellmer, The Doll, trans. Malcolm Green (London: Atlas Press, 2005)
Therese Lichtenstein, Hans Bellmer: Behind Closed Doors (London: University of California Press, 2001)
Sue Taylor, Hans Bellmer: the Anatomy of Anxiety (London: MIT, 2000)
Peter Webb, with Robert Short, Death, Desire and the Doll: the Life and Art of Hans Bellmer, (Washington D.C.: Solar Books, 2006)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the module, 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,Andre Masson,Georges Bataille,Hans Bellmer,Salvador Dali,Michel Leiris,Pa
Course organiserDr Dana MacFarlane
Course secretaryMrs Anna Johns
Tel: (0131 6)51 5740
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