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Unit information: Race and Place in 2020/21

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Unit name Race and Place
Unit code HART20031
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Ms. Robles
Open unit status Not open




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


This research-led unit examines the complex relationship between constructions of racial difference, space and place within the history of art. It traces the impact of the intertwined notions of race and geographic, social, political and imaginary spaces, from colonial portraiture and landscape photography to historical and contemporary representations of domestic interiors and the liminal spaces opened up diaspora. It will look to both historic and contemporary artists and artworks to unravel the visual constructions (and deconstructions) of 'us and them' through systems rooted in the binaries of 'here and there', 'in and out', 'margin and periphery', 'front lines and backyards' (Stuart Hall, 1998). The unit will also introduce students to foundational authors and texts within the development of post-colonial frameworks together with key art historical questions around the representation of difference.

Students will practise their skills in visual analysis in small groups and will work together on a group presentation.

Unit Aims

  • Introduce theoretical frameworks of space, place and the construction of racial, national, ethnic and cultural identities. These include developments within discourses of post-colonialism, orientalism and globalisation.
  • Introduce students to a wide variety of artists and artworks, including some that are marginalised in discourses and University curricula around the history of art, and offer new critical perspectives on familiar bodies of work.
  • Provide students with insight into the most recent developments in this rapidly-changing field with a research-led approach to the ways in which historical developments continue to shape contemporary practices.

Intended learning outcomes

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

  1. demonstrate an understanding of discourses and frameworks of space, place and the construction of racial, ethnic and cultural difference;
  2. differentiate between, and assess critically, different academic interpretations and arguments in this emerging field of scholarship;
  3. apply theoretical ideas about race, cultural difference and space to artworks and visual culture;
  4. identify, be able to work effectively with, and critically assess a range of types of textual material, including both secondary and primary source texts and archival materials appropriate to level I.
  5. employ key vocabulary and theoretical terms relevant to both the historical period and modern scholarship.
  6. communicate their knowledge effectively through oral presentation appropriate to level I.

Teaching details

Classes will involve a combination of long- and short-form lectures, class discussion, investigative activities, and practical activities. Students will be expected to engage with readings and participate on a weekly basis. This will be further supported with drop-in sessions and self-directed exercises with tutor and peer feedback.

Assessment Details

One group presentation (25%) [ILO 6] One timed assessment (75%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Homi K. Bhabha, The Location of Culture (London: Routledge, 1994)

Stuart Hall and Mark Sealey, eds., Different (London: Phaidon, 2001)

CLR James, Beyond a Boundary (London: Hutchinson, 1969)

Kobena Mercer, Welcome to the Jungle: New Positions in Black Cultural Studies Marsha Meskimmon, Contemporary Art and the

Cosmopolitan Imagination (London: Routledge, 2011)

Gilane Tawadros (ed), Changing States: Contemporary Art and Ideas in an Era of Globalistation (London: IniVA, 2004)