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REPRESENTING OTHERS

HART 2213 Gateway Course: Representing Others in British Art, 1700–1850. Department of the History of Art, University College London.

This course was geared toward UCL art history students in their second year of study. It established a broad historical overview of Western art, with both early and contemporary historical periods emphasized. Classes consisted of lectures, guest speakers, and in-class activities.

Dr. Nick Grindle was the instructor and my supervisor. As TA, I provided research assistance, gave class presentations, responded to student inquiries, monitored the course's online component, and graded essays.

Included below is a course overview.


HART 2213 Representing Others in British Art, 1700‐1850

Course tutor: Dr. Nick Grindle

Timetabled: Spring term, Monday 09.00‐11.00

When Raymond Williams first published his now‐famous book Keywords: a Vocabulary of Culture and Society in 1976 he did not include ‘representation’ (though he included ‘regional’, ‘representative’ and ‘revolution’, which gives you some idea where his sympathies lay). But over the next generation the concept of ‘representation’ has become so important to the study of culture that it became the title of a respected journal, Representations, and is the first entry in Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff’s Critical Terms for Art History.

For our purposes, the important point about ‘representation’ is that it has enabled art historians to develop new perspectives on British art in the eighteenth century, from the representation of gender in Reynolds’ portraits, to postcolonial analyses of landscape painting in the early nineteenth century. But what is representation, and what is its relation to ‘others’? Why are we talking about ‘representing’ rather than ‘representations’ (for example, ‘representations of women’)? What drives representation? By the end of this course, you should be able to answer these questions, show how they can inform an observant and critical discussion of artworks from this period, and demonstrate an understanding of how they have shaped the critical literature on British art in recent years.

In this course we will study the axes of representation, that is, the means of differentiation and the plotting of social distinctions. This course is also focused on London. As far as possible our study will be organised around the study of art objects in London collections: that is, objects you can visit and see for yourselves. We will think in detail about the relation of representation and identity to London’s unprecendented urban expansion’.

General reading

This is a short list of some books which will be of gneral use for the course. You are not expected to buy them, and you will need to do much further reading than this to pass the course!

David Bindman ed., History of British Art Volume 2 (New Haven and London: Tate and Yale University Press, 2008). All the essays in this volume will be very useful for the course.

Marcia Pointon, 'The Business of Portrait Painting in 1780s London', Art History, Vol. 7, no. 2, 1984, p. 18. A good and gritty outline of how artists made a living in our period.

William Vaughan, British Painting: The Golden Age (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998).

Roy Porter, London: A Social History (many editions).

Online resources

We shall have a brief look at online resources in the early weeks of the course. We’ll also use Moodle. The main resources you should use are listed below. They are all accessible through the UCL library databases page:

Bibliography of the History of Art. Most useful of a number of bibliographic search engines.

Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO). Contains full texts of most things (books, poems, pamphlets, sermons, etc) published in our period.

There are two important collections of newspapers you can access through UCL library’s collection of online databases: the ‘c.17‐c.18 Burney collection’, and the ‘c.19 British Library Newspapers’. You can search for artists’s names, exhibition reviews, or events, through these databases.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (ODNB). Very useful for browsing. It is recent so its scholarship is up to date and it reflects recent trends in historiography.

Tate’s website is the most comprehensive gallery website available, and also the most useful for our course: http://www.tate.org.uk

Coursework

This course is assessed 40% by coursework and 60% by unseen examination. For the coursework I would like you to develop a line of enquiry based around the study of one of the nine following sites listed below, supplemented by additional research into related art objects and the secondary literature. The list of sites to choose from is given below. I have put links on our Moodle site to help you locate those sites with an asterisk:

The Painted Hall, Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich

Hogarth’s paintings at St Bartholemew’s Hospital, Smithfield


Image credit: Thomas Gainsborough. Girl with Pigs, oil on canvas, c. 1781-82. Private collection.