You will study three core modules:
The ‘Curatorial Practices’ module is taught by both academics and gallery professionals with leading expertise in the field. You will have weekly seminars and lectures that discuss museum and gallery practice. You will learn a range of skills related to the co-organisation of an exhibition including marketing, interpretation and research. The exhibition opens to the public in June and your team will also be involved in organising and delivering the related exhibition programme.
The MA exhibition at the Barber Institute of Fine Arts is developed in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery, London. Those of you working on this exhibition will make two research trips to the National Portrait Gallery to view the loans and meet curators. The MA exhibition at Grand Union will involve working with contemporary artists. Those of you working on this exhibition will make research trips to artists' studios and related venues. The costs of these trips are covered by the Department.
Please note that there is a limit to the number of students that each gallery can accommodate. When you apply for the MA Art History and Curating, we ask that you specify which gallery you would prefer to work with for Curatorial Practices. Places will be allocated on a first-come, first-served basis once you have accepted your place and fulfilled your offer conditions. If you do not express a preference, you will be allocated a place randomly and/or depending on availability. We will notify you if we cannot offer you a place at your first choice gallery.
Postgraduate Research Training and Methods
This module will prepare you for the researching and writing of your dissertation, and your dissertation proposal. (Please note: You do not need to write a formal research proposal as part of the MA application process.) It is seminar-based and covers topics such as: referencing systems; writing a research proposal; literature reviews; approaching archives; oral histories.
Your dissertation topic is chosen by you, with close guidance from academic staff. Recent subjects have included topics relating to art history and/or gallery practices, such as: art forgery; art interpretation; art dealers; films and aesthetic theory; art historiography; artist and exhibition case studies; fashion plates and art journals.
Criticism and Methods in the History of Art and Visual Culture
This module looks at the historiography, methods and theoretical underpinning of contemporary practices of artistic and visual analysis. Based on close reading of key scholarly texts, you will engage with traditional art historical methods as well as more recent approaches to the study of art and visual culture. You will be asked to consider the relevance of these methods to a range of examples, including the potential topics for your final Masters thesis.
You will also choose two optional modules from a range which may include:
Art History in the Field: Placements
The placement module is held in conjunction with institutions including Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Royal Birmingham Society of Art andthe New Art Gallery Walsall. This placement is organised by the department for you and you are mentored by an academic member of staff throughout its duration. The placement lasts for 12 weeks in total. The placement allows you to work on a part-time and flexible basis in a museum, gallery or arts organisation and to work independently or as part of a team. You will work towards a specific area such as collection research, exhibition development, learning and engagement, or social media.
Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art
This module considers subjects such as: art and the nature of aesthetic experience; beauty, ugliness and the sublime; symbolism and allegory; the aesthetics of modernism. At its core is an introduction to the German aesthetic tradition, involving a close reading of foundational texts by Immanuel Kant, Georg Hegel and their contemporaries in the early 19th century. It will also consider the work of subsequent authors, such as Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno and Mikhail Bakhtin, as well as recent and contemporary theorists and philosophers such as Paul Virilio, Jean-François Lyotard, Boris Groys, Niklas Luhmann, Brian Tschumi, Gilles Deleuze, Julia Kristeva and Luce Irigaray. Attention will be paid not only to the conceptual arguments put forward by the thinkers in question, but also to the ways in which their theoretical tenets have underpinned the interpretation and criticism of works of art, music and literature.
Theorising and Historicising Exhibitions
In many ways, exhibitions have been fundamental to art history, perhaps because artists have been influenced by exhibitions or have been ‘periodised’ by exhibitions (for example, Impressionism and Post-Impressionism). Arguably, art history has also been made through exhibitions. Therefore this module explores art history from the perspective of exhibitions. Such a perspective not only offers an intriguing approach that can be applied to any artist or art period, but an exhibition history constitutes part of any exhibition proposal. Therefore, this module supports both curatorial and art-historical studies.
It provides an introduction to a variety of theoretical approaches to the role of exhibitions regarding society and institutional critique (Bourdieu, Foucault, Bhabha) and to aspects that are pertinent to exhibitions, including the relevance of place and space for an exhibition, display, the role of curator, artist and audiences, marketing and sponsoring. Different from ‘Curatorial Practices’, which probes such aspects in order to facilitate a proposal for or the actual mounting of an exhibition, this module explores them in order to analyse past and current shows (and thus will include gallery visits).
Artists' Film and Video from the 1920s to the Present
This module will offer an in-depth introduction of the field of twentieth century artists’ film. Starting with films by exponents of Dada and Surrealism such as Fernand Léger, Man Ray and Germaine Dulac, it will take in work by American avant-garde artists such as Maya Deren, Stan Brakhage, and Jonas Mekas, and more contemporary artist filmmakers such as Peter Greenaway, Valie Export, David Lynch, Derek Jarman, and Steve McQueen. Appropriate theoretical material on the artistic movements represented and on the field of artists’ film and video will be supplied alongside the films themselves throughout the module.
Please note that the optional modules listed on the website for this programme are intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.