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HA4325 Insular Art

Insular Art

Module Organiser: Dr Rachel Moss
Duration of the Module: Michaelmas semester
Contact Hours: 2 lectures pw, and 1 seminar per fortnight
Weighting: 10 ECTS

Perched in the northwest corner of Europe, the islands of Ireland and Britain in the early medieval period were considered to be on the edge of the western world. Far from being remote out-posts however, they were the location of a rich cultural interface created by missionary activities, trade and the presence of significant centres of learning. This module aims to introduce students to the rich variety of art-forms produced in Ireland and parts of Britain and during the period spanning c. 600 to 1000 AD. The distinctive characteristics of manuscript illumination, fine metalworking and stone carving reflected in masterpieces such as the Book of Kells, Ardagh chalice and high crosses will be considered in the context of their wider, complex, artistic ancestry. Issues such as the technical difficulties overcome by artists and the iconographical conventions adopted by them will be explored. The unique legacy of the style, which has been the subject of several revivals, will also be examined as an example of how nationalist politics and historiography can impact on modern perceptions of particular periods of art history.

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Identify and explain major works of the period
  • Explain the function and meaning of a various forms of art and architecture over the period
  • Display an understanding of how different types of artwork were made
  • Engage critically with texts, methodologies and scholarly debates which have shaped art-historical interpretations of the period
  • Use appropriate terminology, concepts and approaches in the analysis of representative works of the period
  • Combine visual analysis with historical appraisal in response to specific questions in both written and oral presentations

Last updated 30 January 2018