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Semester 1

Antiquity Recovered: Imag(in)ing Pompeii and Herculaneum (HIAR10008)


History of Art





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This course cannot be taken alongside History of Art 2A or 2B. Visiting students must have completed at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above; we will only consider University/College level courses. **Please note that History of Art courses have extremely limited spaces available, and are very popular, so students cannot be guaranteed a space in any History of Art course.** These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the History of Art department directly to request additional spaces.

Course Summary

This course covers a wide historical period and focuses on a series of art historical highlights unearthed from Pompeii and Herculaneum during the last two hundred years, from the eighteenth to the twentieth century. Case-studies will reflect the wealth and diversity of the materials exposed by excavation, including the Alexander mosaic, the painted frescoes from the Villa of the Mysteries and the Villa of the Papyri with its collection of bronze sculptures. We will explore how the artefacts recovered from Pompeii and Herculaneum have not only revised an ancient Greek and Roman art historical canon, but have simultaneously inspired works in painting (e.g. by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema), fiction (Bulwer-Lytton's novel The Last Days of Pompeii) and film (Up Pompeii!). In considering the (precarious?) relationship between antiquity and modernity, two sessions on pornography will use the so-called erotic artefacts from Pompeii to argue how such phallic, pagan items threatened to undermine the idealised status of the classical canon. Finally, we will turn from British media to Malibu in the USA, to look at J. Paul Getty's 'reconstruction' of the Villa of the Papyri as a home for his collection of furniture, paintings and antiquities. Key themes for this course include the use and abuse of the classical tradition and the relationship between antiquity and modernity, art and text. A proposed visit to the National Library of Scotland will introduce students to some of the illustrated texts (e.g. Le Antichit` di Ercolano) from the eighteenth century that have preserved and disseminated other image(s) of Pompeii and Herculaneum to posterity.

Course Description

Assessment Information

Written Exam 50%, Coursework 50%, Practical Exam 0%

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