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

Postgraduate Course: Premodern Textiles in Europe (HIAR11129)

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 investigates textile as a medium in the premodern period in Medieval and early Renaissance Europe, and will focus in particular on silk and wool. Students will explore the processes of textile production as well as the mechanics and networks of distribution. They will also consider the diverse physical and notional uses (and re-uses) of textiles, e.g. as cover, clothing, wrap and veil. Students will engage with the topic through reading, discussion, hands-on exercises and visits to local collections and studios, where they will observe and converse with makers, curators and conservators.
Course description This course investigates textile as a medium in the premodern period. The first half of the course is devoted to materials and techniques. All phases of textile production from the cultivation and exchange of raw materials to the spinning and use of threads in weaving and embroidery will be studied. Special attention will be paid to the communities and networks that grew up around textile making and trade. The latter half of the course is given over to examination of specific case studies. Objects to be looked at in detail will vary from year to year but are likely to include the Bayeux 'tapestry' (actually an embroidered work), the so-called Star Mantle of the Holy Roman Emperor Henry II, and the Veil of Veronica (or Sudarium). We will also consider different contexts of production; 'professional' embroiderers in commercial centres like London, nuns working in convents, laywomen rich and poor. There is a significant experiential component to the course. Some classes will convene in local studios and museums. Students will have a chance to observe present-day makers and to try their hands at tablet weaving and embroidery. Working with curators and conservators, they will consider the particular challenges of studying, preserving and displaying textile objects; and learn to identify materials and techniques in historic examples.
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. Demonstrate in-depth knowledge and understanding of premodern textile art, in particular its principal techniques and materials.
  2. Develop a historically informed approach to the analysis and interpretation of premodern textile art, displaying some measure of critical independence.
  3. Critically examine art histories of this material.
  4. Analyse the ways in which processes of production of textile art interrelated with networks of distribution in this period, helping to form communities of knowledge.
  5. Articulate the significance of attending to the role of makers and making in scholarship of this historical period.
Reading List
Browne, Clare et al., eds. English Medieval Embroidery: Opus Anglicanum. London: Yale University Press, 2016.

Cleland, Elizabeth and Lorraine Karafel. Tapestries from the Burrell Collection. London: Philip Wilson Publishers in association with Glasgow Museums, 2017.

Coatsworth, Elizabeth and Gale R. Owen-Crocker, eds. Clothing the Past: Surviving Garments from Early Medieval to Early Modern Western Europe. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Collingwood, Peter. The Techniques of Tablet Weaving. Brattleboro, VT: Echo Point Books & Media, 2015.

Rudy, Kathryn M. and Barbara Baert. Weaving, Veiling, and Dressing: Textiles and Their Metaphors in the Late Middle Ages. Turnhout: Brepols, 2007.

Wedding, Tristan et al., eds. Textile Terms: A Glossary. Berlin: Edition Imorde, 2017.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; The ability to articulate ideas clearly in writing; Organisation and planning; Teamwork through group discussion
KeywordsTextiles,Tapestry,Embroidery,Techniques,Craft,Communities of Knowledge
Course organiserDr Megan McNamee
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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