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Unit information: Art and Environmental Awareness from the Eighteenth Century to Now in 2020/21

Unit name Art and Environmental Awareness from the Eighteenth Century to Now
Unit code HART30050
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Ms. Tricha Passes
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of History of Art (Historical Studies)
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit addresses issues concerning environmental awareness and the representation of landscape from the industrial revolution to the present.

We will look at a range of artwork from Joseph Wright of Derby in the eighteenth century, Camille Pissarro, Turner and Thomas Cole in the nineteenth century and more recently Joseph Beuys, Agnes Denes, Neil Jenney, Hamish Fulton, Ai Weiwei, Richard Long, Andreas Gursky and Anna Mendieta in the twentieth and twenty first century.

We will address the critical significance of how both global warming and industrial waste have been explored in recent creative practices by assessing the work of leading scholars on this subject such as Lucy Lippard, Aaron Gare, Neil Harris, Kate Soper and Rebecca Solnit.
The unit will also address a range of ways that artists’ have engaged with these important debates from a European context to the globalised world we now inhabit.

The aims of the unit are to familiarize students with artistic responses to changes in the landscape that have impacted our understanding of the natural world. The industrial revolution ushered in a new age and students will have the opportunity to assess creative responses to this paradigm shift.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the unit, students will be able to:

1.Recognise the different environmental issues that effect our representation of the landscape from the industrial revolution to the present.

2.Identify a variety of artists from across the period whose work has been influenced by environmental issues.

3.Analyse the significance of environmental issues for contemporary art practice.

4.Examine how international galleries and foundations have responded to this issue and have supported artists developing projects.

5. Demonstrate a critical understanding of environmental issues and be able to communicate this in writing as appropriate to level H.

Teaching details

1 x 2hr informal lecture and 1 x 1hr seminar per week.

Assessment Details

1) 3000-word essay (50%) (ILOs 1-5)

2) 2-hour exam (50%) (ILOs 1-5)

Reading and References

Lippard, Lucy, Lure of the Local – Senses of Place in a Multicentered society (New York, 1997)
Wallis, Brian, Land and Environmental Art (New York, 1998)
Elkins, James, Master Narratives and their Discontents (London, 2005)
Solnit, Rebecca, As Eve Said to the Serpent: On Landscape, Gender and Art (Athens GA, 2001)
Gablik, Suzi, The Re-enchantment of Art (London, 1991)