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

Undergraduate Course: The Power in Small Things, 1700-1900 (HIAR10204)

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 considers how global dynamics of power are mediated through small things and questions the extent to which they informed and responded to socio-cultural, political and historical shifts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Course description Although often overlooked, small things are everywhere in history, from small tokens or trinkets, to coins, or portrait miniatures. How do we define small things in material and visual culture? This course considers the power and agency of small things which have travelled globally across the transatlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will use the permanent collection of the National Museum of Scotland as its core inspiration with gallery visits and object-focused sessions. Each week adopts different art historiographical methodologies, from anthropology, to queer history, to military history, and post-colonialism. It considers a range of objects, from glass beads which were used as exchanges of currency for human life in the transatlantic slave trade, to snuffboxes, to political tokens, such as Wedgwood's infamous abolition medallion. Students will have the opportunity to choose the small things for discussion in Weeks 5 and 7 and these will inform group podcasts, episodes of which we will write, make and produce together in the latter half of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above, and we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that 3rd year History of Art courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) 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 2,000-word essay 50% - submitted weeks 8-10
1 x 3-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 knowledge and understanding of a range of 18th- and 19th-century visual, cultural and material histories and practices, in Scotland, the UK and further afield.
  2. Show knowledge and understanding of contexts and ideas associated with transatlantic trade, slavery, and museology/collecting.
  3. Demonstrate an awareness of art historiographical methodologies and analyse relevant texts and theoretical approaches, from anthropology, to queer history, to military history, and post-colonialism.
  4. Develop your skills in visual and textual analysis, through object-based learning, which will form a key part of seminar teaching.
  5. Evidence developed skills of analysis, communication, and organisation, verbally and in writing.
Reading List
Kerry Sinanan, Slavery in Glass, Tropes of 'Race', In Sparkling Company, 2020, (ed. Christopher Maxwell), Corning Museum of Glass, pp.69-89.

'Boxes' episode, Travelling Sisterhood of Art Historians Podcast, August 2021 or 'Buttons' episode, Unexpected Histories Podcast, March 2021

Chloe Wigston Smith and Beth Fowkes Tobin, Introduction, Small Things in the Eighteenth Century: The Political and Personal Value of the Miniature, Cambridge University Press, 2022, pp.1-21.

Michael Yonan, 'Toward a Fusion of Art History and Material Culture Studies', West 86th, Vol. 18, No. 2 (Fall-Winter 2011), The University of Chicago Press on behalf of the Bard Graduate Center, pp. 232-248.

Jessie Burton, The Miniaturist, 2014 or Edmund de Waal, The Hare with Amber Eyes, 2010
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; The ability to express ideas clearly in writing; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning; Teamwork through group discussion
KeywordsEuropean art,material culture,collecting,postcolonialism,transatlantic trade
Course organiserDr Caroline McCaffrey-Howarth
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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