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Unit information: Religious Art (Reflective Art History Unit) in 2018/19

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Unit name Religious Art (Reflective Art History Unit)
Unit code HART30008
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Dent
Open unit status Not open




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


The mixture of art and religion forms a powerful cocktail. Even today, the majority of people probably encounter works of art in places of worship rather than museums and galleries. For many of these people, images are a source of supernatural power, either as channels for the divine, or as living objects in their own right. By working through a series of case studies, in this course we will be reflecting on some of the big questions that surround religious art: How do you make an image of a god? What do you get out of praying in front of a painting or sculpture? Is there still space for the religious image in the modern, secular world?

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate a detailed knowledge and critical understanding of religious imagery in a number of different contexts;
  2. evaluate the phenomenology of art and ritual
  3. analyse the historical, physical, ethical, theological, and liturgical contexts of religious art;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to advance a cogent argument;
  5. display skills in evaluating, analysing, synthesising and (where apt) critiquing material and ideas appropriate to level H/6.

Teaching details

Seminars - 2 hours per week

Assessment Details

1 x 1-hour exam (100%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Caroline Walker Bynum, Christian materiality: an essay on religion in late medieval Europe, Brooklyn, 2011 Amy Knight Powell, Depositions: scenes from the late medieval church and the modern museum, Brooklyn, 2012 Gervase Rosser and Jane Garnett, Spectacular Miracles: Transforming Images in Italy from the Renaissance to the Present, London, 2013 Bissera Pentcheva, The Sensual Icon: Space, Ritual and the Senses in Byzantium, University Park, 2010 Megan Holmes, The Miraculous Image in Renaissance Florence, New Haven and London, 2013