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

Postgraduate Course: Art in Theory (HIAR11097)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course will familiarise you with key developments in art theory since c. 1960, focusing on enabling you to apply theoretical approaches to the analysis of artworks.
Course description Since the advent of postmodernism in the late 1960s, theories of art have offered significant interventions into how we see, sense, and critically engage with art and the objects, experiences, and worlds it represents, as well as influencing our understanding of how art is produced and disseminated. This course will explore a selection of theoretical considerations published since c1960 of the artwork and its effects and affects in diverse media. Some of the key intellectual currents explored will include structuralist and poststructuralist theories, varieties of postmodernism, identity politics and aesthetics, psychoanalytic theories, ideological theories, competing histories of art, debates over issues of originality and authenticity, functions of art in globalised and new imperial contexts, trauma aesthetics, and art theory within eco-critical and deep-time-historical theoretical debates.

This course will equip you with some of the advanced analytical and methodological tools that inform contemporary aesthetic inquiry, reflecting some of the diverse modes of theoretical engagement with questions of the aesthetic and of the artwork. The course will be structured around close readings of key texts, and the application of theoretical analysis to relevant artworks.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed:
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. Understand key topics in recent and late-20th Century art theoretical debates.
  2. Evaluate interconnections and distinctions between different positions within art theoretical traditions and debates.
  3. Critique art theoretical concepts and arguments when applied in the analysis of artworks.
  4. Present independent research and analysis in a variety of media.
Reading List
Indicative Primary Reading (provisional and subject to change at short notice)

Agamben, G. 'The Original Structure of the Work of Art', in The Man Without Content (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999), pp. 58-72.
Barthes, R. 'Rhetoric of the Image', in Image, Music, Text (London: Fontana Press, 1977), pp. 32-51.
Baudrillard, J. Simulacra and Simulations (Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1994).
Braddock, A. & Irmscher, C. (eds.) A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History (Birmingham: University of Alabama Press, 2009).
Butler, J. 'The Force of Fantasy: Feminism, Mapplethorpe, and Discursive Excess', differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies. Vol. 2, No. 2, Summer 1990, 105-125.
Carroll, N. 'Art and Globalisation: Then and Now', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism Vol. 65 No. 1 Winter 2007, 131-143.
Deleuze, G. Francis Bacon: The Logic of Sensation (London and New York: Continuum, 2003).
Derrida, J. 'Parergon' [1978], in The Truth in Painting (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1987), 37-82.
Hirsch, M. Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Post-Memory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997).
Jones, A. Body Art / Performing the Subject (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998).
Kofman, S. 'The Truth in Painting' ('The Melancholy of Art', 'The Resemblance of Portraits', 'Conjuring Death'), in Thomas Albrecht, Georgia Albert and Elizabeth G. Rottenberg (eds.), Selected Writings (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 205-44.
Krauss, R., The Originality of the Avant-Garde and other Modernist Myths (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1986).
Kristeva, J. The Severed Head: Capital Visions (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).
Lyotard, J-F. 'Answering the Question: What is Postmodernism?', appendix to The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), 71-84.
Marks, L. 'The Logic of Smell', Touch: Sensuous Theory and Multisensory Media (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), 113-26.
Nancy, J-L. 'Distinct Oscillation' [2003], The Ground of the Image (New York: Fordham University Press, 2005), 63-79.
Prosser, J. Light in the Dark Room: Photography and Loss (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2004).
Rancière, J. The Future of the Image (London and New York: Verso, 2007).
Spivak, G. 'Sign and Trace', in An Aesthetic Education in the Era of Globalisation (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013).
Zizek, S. The Art of the Ridiculous Sublime: A David Lynch's Lost Highway (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2000).

Indicative Secondary Reading

Bacci, Francesca and David Melcher, Art and the Senses (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011).
Bogue, Ronald Deleuze on Music, Painting, and the Arts (Abingdon, OX and New York: Routledge 2003).
Chanter, Tina and Pleshett DeArmitt (eds.), Sarah Kofman's Corpus, (New York: State University of New York Press, 2008
Davis, Oliver Jacques Rancière (Cambridge and Malden, MA: Polity Press, 2010).
de la Durantaye, Leland 'Art for Art's Sake: The Destruction of Aesthetics and The Man Without Content', in Giorgio Agamben: A Critical Introduction (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), 26-55.
Gane, Mike (ed.) Baudrillard Live: Selected Interviews (London and New York: Routledge, 1993).
Heathfield, Adrian and Amelia Jones Perform, Repeat, Record: Live Art in History (Bristol and Chicago: Intellect, 2012).
Lane, Richard J. Jean Baudrillard (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2009).
Rabaté, Jean-Michel (ed.), Writing the Image After Roland Barthes (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997).
Royle, Nicholas, Jacques Derrida (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2003).
van Tuinen, Sjoerd and Niamh McDonnell (ed.) Deleuze and the Fold: A Critical Reader (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis
Independent research skills (locate, access, and interpret information)
Presentation and communication skills (oral and written)
Organisation and planning
Additional Class Delivery Information Sessions will be introduced by the seminar tutor, followed by 1-2 class presentations. Presentations should be no longer than 15 minutes in length.

Students should preferably use Prezi ( as presentation software, or a handout from it in case of presentations away from the classroom. Presenters are free to consult notes and/or to read from a pre-written text during their presentation. The most important part of the presentation process should be clarity of delivery, and the ability to present a theoretical analysis via a structured argument. Written presentations should be sent via email to the course tutor and will be uploaded on the course site (LEARN) after the seminar.

Presenters should consult the tutor should they have any questions or experience any difficulties prior to their presentation.
KeywordsArt theory,rhetoric,aesthetics,representation
Course organiserDr Patricia Allmer
Tel: (0131 6)51 3113
Course secretaryMiss Remi Jankeviciute
Tel: (0131 6)51 5773
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