Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Pleasure, Power, and Profit: Art in the Long Eighteenth Century
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Due to Covid-19 students should refer to the module Blackboard pages for assessment details

Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  (2000 words)  60%
Semester Assessment Reflective log  (1500 words)  20%
Semester Assessment Comparative Essay  (1000 words)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  (2000 words)  60%
Supplementary Assessment Reflective log  (1500 words)  20%
Supplementary Assessment Comparative Essay  (1000 words)  20%

Learning Outcomes

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

1. ​Describe and interpret the meaning of artworks using appropriate visual vocabulary.

2. Compare artworks produced in different contexts and for different purposes.

3. Interpret primary and secondary sources.

4. Construct and justify a written argument about works of art and their historical contexts using the appropriate scholarly apparatus.

5. Reflect on their own learning.

Brief description

The artist in 1648 could be certain of himself: if he wanted to convey a certain emotion, he just needed to consult his copy of Charles Le Brun’s Lecture on Expression, find the ‘correct’ head, and copy it; if he wanted to get ahead as a professional artist, he knew exactly which genres to work in. Over the next century and a half, these reassuring restrictions gradually fell away, only to be replaced by new demands as the power centres of art shifted between Academies, Royal Courts, the public, and the market. Along the way, the very question of what it meant to be an artist was challenged and transformed in multifaceted ways. Was the artist supposed to provide pleasure, produce profit, or promulgate political power? Of course, for women artists excluded and suppressed by the old power structures, this tumult was more opportunity than crisis.
This module examines the history of art in Europe during the long-eighteenth century, and situates these artistic debates and transformations amid their economic, social, and cultural contexts. It aims to, first, acquaint you with the key artists, movements, and contexts for understanding this period in the history of art; and second, help you begin to develop key art historical skills: including describing, analysing, and comparing works of visual art; conducting independent research; constructing and communicating interpretations and arguments about artworks; and contextualizing these interpretations and arguments in a historical framework.


1. Introduction: Art in the Long Eighteenth Century
a. Workshop: Visual Analysis
2. Charles Le Brun and the rise of Academies
a. Workshop: Reflective Practice
3. Rococo
a. Workshop: Secondary Sources
4. The Enlightenment and Culture I: Art’s New Public
5. The Enlightenment and Culture II: Observing Nature
a. Seminar: Edmund Burke on the Sublime
6. The Enlightenment and Culture III: A Taste for the Antique
7. The Enlightenment and Culture IV: Art and Revolution
a. Workshop: Primary Sources
8. Assessment Preparation Week
9. The Enlightenment and Culture V: The Global Enlightenment
10. Painting for Napoléon
11. Early Romanticism
a. Seminar: Romantic Aesthetics

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number n/a
Communication Articulating ideas orally in seminar discussions and textually through comparative visual analysis, reflective research diary, and essay.
Improving own Learning and Performance Reflective research diary asks student to reflect on their participating in their own learning in the context of developing a research project.
Information Technology Conducting research through library catalogues, online scholarly databases and museum websites; organizing their own research materials and notes to compile diary; engaging with digital platforms like Blackboard and Turnitin.
Personal Development and Career planning Development of key skills, including professional presentation of research using MLA style, and reflective practice.
Problem solving In seminar preparation and discussion, essay research and writing.
Research skills In seminar preparation, conducting research for reflective research diary and essay.
Subject Specific Skills Ability to visually analyze works of art, set them in their historical context, and construct arguments about their meaning and significance.
Team work n/a


This module is at CQFW Level 4