Study Abroad and Exchanges



HIS3138 : Art of empires, 1750-1850 (Inactive)

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module will consider how visual art and material culture can help us better understand imperialism in the Atlantic World. Focusing on the British and French empires in the period 1750-1850, the students will examine the ways in which artists represented imperial colonization and the classification of human societies. The students will explore the display of empire through a wide variety of sources, including portraiture, sculpture, painting, as well as local archives documenting the collecting and exhibition of objects. The module will cover the development of modern cultural institutions in the 1750s (including the British Museum with a core collection of slavery artefacts from the British colonies in the Caribbean) to “human zoos” and the first universal exhibition in London in 1851. A central issue for the course will be the construction of boundaries between domestic and foreign, between human and object in different imperial contexts.

The aims of this module are:
• To introduce the students to the role played by images and objects in representing and reflecting key themes in the history of the British and French empires
• To enable the students to do historical research and analyze primary visual, textual and archival sources of the 1750-1850 period – especially in local archives and material.
• To engage with the major historiographical debates about imperialism, visual representation, and museum studies
• To encourage students to think about history comparatively and to connect the histories that link societies in Africa, the Americas, and Europe.

Outline Of Syllabus

Topics will be covered in small-group seminars. There is also the opportunity to engage directly with the material culture of empires in the Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums.

The following is only a guide.

• The art history of empire: genres, themes, and terminology
• From wonder to knowledge: wunderkammern and curiosity cabinets
• The Enlightenment in the Atlantic World
• Landscapes of slavery: picturesque plantations
• The art of exploration: James Cook's voyages to the Pacific Ocean
• Visual cultures of the colonies
• Collections, museums, and empire
• Visualising Africa
• Power and propaganda: public sculpture, architecture, and portraiture
• The freak and the savage
• Exhibiting the empire

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion541:0054:001/3 of guided independent study
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching123:0036:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study551:0055:001/3 of guided independent study
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Independent learning is essential to this module: students are expected to develop skills of source evaluation, critical reading and note-taking in an independent and effective manner. Seminar teaching complements these skills by allowing students the opportunity to share and debate information gathered independently. Oral skills of argument and presentation will be developed. Moreover, a significant part of seminar teaching will test the development of primary source analysis.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written Examination1802A75N/A
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M12essay/doc commentary of 750 to 1,000 words, including footnotes but excluding bibliography
Case study2M13essay/doc commentary of 750 to 1,000 words, including footnotes but excluding bibliography
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Essays test students’ ability to conduct independent research, relate primary source documents to broader problem, ability to formulate an interpretation of evidence in response to a question, and academic writing skills.

Exams test students’ general knowledge, as well as their ability to quickly analyse a problem and formulate a clearly written answer, drawing broadly on the material covered by the course

The form of the resit is no different from the above, i.e. no marks are carried over from the sit to the resit. Students are not allowed to submit for the resit any work that they have previously submitted.

Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.

This module can be made available to Erasmus students only with the agreement of the Head of Subject and of the Module Leader. This option must be discussed in person at the beginning of your exchange period. No restrictions apply to study-abroad, exchange and Loyola students.

All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree unless they have compelling reasons not to do so. If this is the case, they are offered the alternative of writing one 3,000 word essay to be handed in by 12.00 p.m. of the Friday of the first week of the assessment period. This will replace all assessment work required of other students on the module. In order to take up this option, students need to discuss it with the Study Abroad Co-ordinator and their module leader, having checked with their home university that the new assessment will be accepted by them. The Study Abroad Co-ordinator will have the final say on such issues.

Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will require the provision of an alternative assessment before the end of teaching week 12. The alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 1,500 word essays in addition to the other coursework assessment. The essays should be set so as to assure full coverage of the course content.

Study-abroad, exchange proper and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.

Reading Lists