Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Representing the Body
Academic Year
Semester 2
Reading List
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay  1500 Words  70%
Semester Assessment .25 Hours   Recorded Oral Presentation  30%
Supplementary Assessment .25 Hours   Recorded Oral Presentation  30%
Supplementary Assessment Essay  1500 Words  70%

Learning Outcomes

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

Recognise and explain critical problems posed by representing the body.

Analyse and evaluate critical and theoretical texts pertaining to the representation of the body.

Apply critical and theoretical concepts to understand familiar and unfamiliar artistic representations of the body.

Analyse artistic representations of the body and communicate these analyses in speech and writing.

Construct a theoretically-informed argument about representations of the body in art.

Brief description

Everybody has a body; yet, the way our bodies are represented, understood, experienced, shaped, and controlled varies both within and between societies, and changes over time. For centuries, if not millennia, art has allowed humans to express and explore what it means to have a body and to exist in a society of other bodies. In turn, representations of the body have been wrapped up in larger debates and struggles: about political power and social control; identity (including gender, class, nationality, and race); sexuality; body modification and technology; health and disease; knowledge and education; and about the nature and purpose of art itself.

This module examines a variety of artistic approaches to the representation of the body alongside critical theories that reveal their wider significance. It aims to, first, introduce you to the idea of 'theory' and its importance to the practice of art history; and, second, help you begin to develop the ability to analyse and evaluate alternative theories and apply them to interpret works of art.


Week-by-week we will examine critical problems posed by the representation of the body via works of art and theory that engage with the same problem. The precise problems we address will evolve over time in response to the convenor's research and the latest developments in the field. As an indication, we will explore issues of political power and social control, gender and sexuality, the relationship between the mind and the body, affect and phenomenology, race, and health and disability. To explore these problems we will examine artworks in a variety of media from across the globe and throughout history.

Taking a 'flipped learning' and 'problem based' approach, students will read essential texts and watch pre-recorded lectures (1 hour per week) as guided independent study. Classroom time (2 hours per week) will consist of student-led, collaborative activities in which students work together to solve real-life problems based on how art historians engage with and utilise theory.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Communication Articulating ideas orally by participating in classroom discussions and small-group activities; communicating orally and in writing in assessments.
Improving own Learning and Performance Formative feedback in classroom discussion week-by-week and summative feedback to assessments will offer guidance for improving own learning and performance.
Information Technology Engaging with flipped content (Panopto recordings, Aspire reading list); conducting research through library catalogues, online scholarly databases, and museum websites; organizing research materials and notes; engaging with digital platforms like Panopto, Blackboard, and Turnitin.
Personal Development and Career planning Practicing key disciplinary skills with direct relevance to future study and work: using critical theory to explain the significance of works of art.
Problem solving In workshops, students use the knowledge and concepts encountered in lectures and seminars to collaboratively solve exercises modelled on the real-world problems faced by art historians; assessments (oral presentation and written essay) are modelled on the ways in which art historians communicate their solutions to these problems in speech and writing.
Research skills Engaging with the reading list and locating sources for class preparation and essay.
Subject Specific Skills Practicing analysing and evaluating critical theory, applying theory to interpret works of art, and communicating those interpretations in speech and writing.
Team work Small-group discussion in seminars and collaborative, problem-based activities in workshop provide opportunities for students to work together.


This module is at CQFW Level 4