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

Postgraduate Course: Idolatry: Images and the Sacred in the Americas and Europe, 1400-1700. (HIAR11116)

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
SummaryThis course invites students to reconsider our understandings of the nature of images and their roles in society by examining conflicts surrounding 'idolatry' (the worship of images) in both the Americas and Europe, in campaigns of religious conversion. In doing so, students will gain perspective on the dynamic roles of artworks in processes of globalisation and cultural exchange.
Course description Immediately following the 'discovery' of the Americas, European colonists made concerted efforts to convert Indigenous peoples to Christianity, focusing much of their energies on stamping out existing Native religions, which they branded 'idolatry': the worship of images. Meanwhile, back in Europe, Spanish Catholics made similar efforts to convert Muslims and Jews to Christianity, also casting those religions as 'idolatrous', even though images were treated very differently in Islamic and Judaic practices. Things became more complicated still as Catholics came under severe criticism for their own uses of religious images during the Protestant Reformation. In this course we will examine shifting attitudes toward religious images in these various conflicts and what they tell us more broadly about how people conceive of what images are and what they do in different cultural contexts and at different historical moments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Analyse and interpret key artworks, monuments, and/or objects of material culture from the Americas and Europe, in the period 1400-1700
  2. Evaluate art historical issues using research skills such as visual, material and textual analysis.
  3. Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the theoretical discourses and contemporary scholarship in this interdisciplinary area of study.
  4. Critically examine how and why broader historical changes in society contributed to developments in art of this period.
  5. Apply developed skills of analysis, communication, and organisation.
Reading List
Hamann, Byron Ellsworth. 2019. Bad Christians, New Spains: Muslims, Catholics, and Native Americans in a Mediterratlantic World. Routledge: London.

Mills, Kenneth P. 1997. Idolatry and Its Enemies: Colonial Andean Relgion and Extirpation, 1640-1750. Princeton University Press: Princeton, NJ.

Camille, Michael. 1991. The Gothic Idol: Ideology and Image-Making in Medieval Art. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Eire, Carlos M. N. 2008. The War Against Idols: The Reformation of Worship from Erasmus to Calvin. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.
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.
KeywordsIdolatry; Religious Art; Iconoclasm; Cultural Exchange
Course organiserDr Jamie Forde
Course secretary Yijia Chen
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