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

Undergraduate Course: The Making of 'Black British' Art and Film (HIAR10197)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course introduces artists and filmmakers that reflected on, changed, and challenged definitions of Blackness and Britishness from postwar to present day. We will consider topics relevant to their practices including 'Commonwealth' abstraction; manifold representations of BIPOC, LGBTQ and gendered identities; diaspora's 'roots' and 'routes'; the experimental film-essay and art practice as counter-narratives of the audiovisual and ephemera archive; and art after Black Lives Matter.
Course description This course introduces artists and filmmakers who transformed definitions of Blackness and Britishness and examines how art practice and the art world reflected, changed, and challenged these identities from postwar to present day. Reflecting on the development of 'Black diaspora artists' from WWII onward, cultural theorist Stuart Hall outlined two successive and interconnected generations of African, Caribbean, and Asian artists. The first wave of modernists like Aubrey Williams and Anwar Jalal Shemza were the 'last colonials' of a postwar London to approach artmaking with a 'universalist and cosmopolitan outlook'. In the 1970s, conceptual and performance artists like Rasheed Araeen and filmmakers like Horace Ové rejected modernism's promise of utopian universalism for a politically-minded and culturally relativist approach. The second wave, including the first generation of UK-born artists, such as Sonia Boyce, Lubaina Himid, and Donald Rodney, or filmmakers like Isaac Julien and Black Audio Film Collective, explored Britishness and belonging in the 1980s and '90s through manifestations of the body, collage and bricolage. Exploring these and other artists, we will consider topics including 'Commonwealth' abstraction; diaspora's 'roots' and 'routes'; the experimental film-essay and art practice as counter-narratives of the audiovisual and ephemera archive; the manifold representations of BIPOC, LGBTQ, and gendered identities; and art after Black Lives Matter. We will read artist writings and primary sources in tandem with critical scholarship by scholars and critics including Rasheed Araeen, Eddie Chambers, Kobena Mercer, and Stuart Hall.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students who have passed at least 60 credits of Architectural History at Level 8 can also take these courses. If the pre-requisites cannot be met, entry to this course can be negotiated in consultation with either the Course Organiser or Programme Director (History of Art).
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. As numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 172 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 1 x 2000 word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10
1 x 2-hour exam 50%
Feedback Students are given feedback on FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT as follows:
Mid-Point Feedback: You will submit a one-page essay outline by week 5. This is intended to give you adequate time to make use of the feedback prior to assessment at the end of the course. Feedback will be given in Week 6, in the form of a 15 minutes per student one-to-one (online or in-person) session on your outline.

SUMMATIVE ASSESSMENT: There will be an essay and an exam, equally weighted. Written feedback on student essays will be provided.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)3 hour online exam3:15
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation by looking in detail at key works by a representative range of 'Black British' artists and filmmakers;
  2. Analyse the way in which avant-garde artists engaged with and critiqued political and philosophical assumptions of the period;
  3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a variety of 'Black British' aesthetic practices and their political and cultural implications;
  4. Critically examine the ways in which artworks engage with and comment on social contexts and events;
  5. Apply developed skills of analysis, communication, and organisation.
Reading List
Bailey, David A., Ian Baucom & Sonia Boyce, eds. Shades of Black: Assembling Black
Arts in 1980s Britain. London: Institute of International Visual Arts; Durham: Duke
University Press, 2005.

Eshun, Kodwo, ed. The Ghosts of Songs: The Film Art of the Black Audio Film Collective. FACT:
Liverpool, 2007.

Chambers, Eddie. Black Artists in British Art: A History Since the 1950s. London: I.B. Tauris,

Hall, Stuart. 'Black Diaspora Artists in Britain: Three 'Moments' in Post-War History.'
History Workshop Journal, No. 61 (Spring, 2006), 1-24.

Mercer, Kobena. 'The Longest Journey: Black Diaspora Artists in Britain.' Art History, v. 44, i. 3
(June 2021), 482-505.

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning.
Keywords'Black British',British art,film,gendered identity,diaspora,class,race
Course organiserDr Maryam Ohadi-Hamadani
Tel: (0131 6)51 5800
Course secretaryMiss Chloe Hancock
Tel: (0131 6)50 4124
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