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Semester 1

The Power in Small Things, 1700-1900 (HIAR10204)


History of Art





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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 considers how global dynamics of power are mediated through small things and questions the extent to which they informed and responded to socio-cultural, political and historical shifts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Course Description

Although often overlooked, small things are everywhere in history, from small tokens or trinkets, to coins, or portrait miniatures. How do we define small things in material and visual culture? This course considers the power and agency of small things which have travelled globally across the transatlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It will use the permanent collection of the National Museum of Scotland as its core inspiration with gallery visits and object-focused sessions. Each week adopts different art historiographical methodologies, from anthropology, to queer history, to military history, and post-colonialism. It considers a range of objects, from glass beads which were used as exchanges of currency for human life in the transatlantic slave trade, to snuffboxes, to political tokens, such as Wedgwood's infamous abolition medallion. Students will have the opportunity to choose the small things for discussion in Weeks 5 and 7 and these will inform group podcasts, episodes of which we will write, make and produce together in the latter half of the course.

Assessment Information

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

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