Second Year Topic/Core Unit

Unit Descriptions 2010/11
School of Humanities
Department of Classics and Ancient History
Using Visual Culture
Dr Shelley Hales
Teaching Block 2
Unit Code CLAS12368, 20 credits
Unit Description – The people of the ancient world lived in an exceedingly visual
culture. Ancient audiences responded to a wide variety of visual stimuli – from formal
works of art and architecture to performance and ritual. Successful participation in
religious, political and social life relied on the ability to interpret visual information.
Using a number of different methodological approaches and a series of case studies
from the Roman world, this unit equips students with the tools needed to study these
visual aspects of ancient culture. In providing both the practical skills of ‘reading’
images and the theoretical issues involved in studying visual material, we will ask:
What questions can we ask of visual evidence? How does art communicate
meaning? The ultimate aim of this unit is to enable students to use visual culture with
confidence in their wider studies of the ancient world.
Extended Description: (if applicable)
Contact Hours and Mode of Teaching: 2 hours per week, lectures and seminars.
Methods of Assessment:
One short description of a personal reaction to a work of art (500 words); one piece
of visual criticism (1,500); one group project (2,000).
Essential Reading:
M. Beard & J. Henderson, Classical Art (2001)
J. Berger Ways of Seeing (1983)
J. Elsner, Imperial Rome & Christian Triumph (1998)
R. Howells, Visual Culture (2003)
M.A. Staniszewski, Believing is Seeing: Creating the Culture of Art (1995)
Further Information
Date written: 03/03/09
Date revised: 08/04/10