Art history

From Decorative Arts to Material Culture

Module code: V4005
Level 6
30 credits in spring semester
Teaching method: Seminar
Assessment modes: Presentation, Dissertation

This module considers the traditional categorisations of the arts into 'fine' and 'decorative' and how this distinction has characterised scholarly approaches to them. Art history's recent engagement with methodologies from the field of material culture has revived interest in objects that had been relegated to the ranks of 'applied art', revealing original contexts and functions that had previously been overlooked. You will explore how the relationship between different art forms was conceived in the past, investigate the range of methods used by art historians to study art objects, and consider how these categories have informed their display in museums.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate detailed and coherent critical evaluation of specific visual culture relating to this subject and understanding of the significance of this theme to wider thematic debates in art history.
  • Undertake sustained independent written research and develop in-depth argument taking into account a variety of scholarly perspectives.
  • Synthesize complex scholarly information and independent research coherently in the form of oral presentation.
  • Demonstrate critical understanding of some of the differing approaches of current art-historical scholarship about this subject and how specific examples relate to the overall issues of the topic.