innovation and collaboration: new ma options

Generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and coordinated by the Courtauld Institute of Art Research Forum, two new innovative and interdisciplinary MA Special Options will be available at the Institute during 2008-09: The Aesthetic Body: Science, Aestheticism and the Image of the Body in British Art 1860-1900 and Arts in Exile in Britain 1933-1945: Politics and Cultural Identity. A third option, Aestheticising Politics? The Political in Globalised Contemporary Art will be available in 2009-10.


The Aesthetic Body: Science, Aestheticism and the Image of the Body in British Art 1860-1900

The Aesthetic Body: Science, Aestheticism and the Image of the Body in British Art 1860-1900 is an option on the topic of conceptions of the body in Aesthetic Movement art and in medical science in the late Victorian period. Within an art historical framework it allows for a consideration of literary works and introduces material relating to the History of Medicine. It will be taught jointly by Dr Caroline Arscott (Courtauld Institute of Art), specialist in Victorian art, and Visiting Professor, Dr Vanessa Ryan (Brown University), a specialist in Victorian literature and the science of the mind.

The art of the Aesthetic Movement brought in a new emphasis on the suffering/pleasured body, a hypersensuality that led to the artists of this group (such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti) being denounced as the ‘Fleshly School’. Art historical research on Aesthetic Movement artists such as Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Simeon Solomon, Edward Burne-Jones and James Abbott Mc Neill Whistler has focused not only on the move away from narrative incident and morality but also on the issue of eroticism and the represented body as a site for sexual response. This course will explore fresh arguments concerning the evocation of sense in these works by drawing on Victorian scientific debates about the role of the senses and the relationship between mind and body. Students will have access to the scientific debates of the Victorian period, insight into their relationship with English literature, and will address the issues of sensory stimulation, subjectivity and identity in the 1870s. Works by Rossetti, Solomon, Burne-Jones and other artists will be studied within a framework of the medical, scientific, populist and literary presentation of the flesh-sense-mind nexus.


Dr Caroline Arscott

Arts in Exile in Britain 1933-1945: Politics and Cultural Identity
Arts in Exile in Britain 1933-1945: Politics and Cultural Identity led by Dr Shulamith Behr (Courtauld Institute of Art) focuses on the contribution of refugees from Nazism to the Arts in Britain and will address the spheres of art history, painting, sculpture, architecture, refugee organisations, exhibitions and dealership. It will also examine the much neglected theme of art in internment. Apart from its empirical basis in exploring the causal factors, biographical evidence, support structures and oeuvre of particular individuals during the period 1933-1945, the course offers the opportunity to engage in theoretical notions of cultural identity. Here we will explore the complex construction of national and gendered identity and how this is brought into question by the loss of homeland, language, custom and local tradition.

Collaboration with a Visiting Professor, Sander Gilman, distinguished professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences at Emory University, will enrich the interdisciplinary discourses of the programme. Seminars will also be offered by members of The Research Centre for German and Austrian Exile Studies, Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies, University of London. It is anticipated that the course will be of interest to students of diverse backgrounds: twentieth-century art history, politics and history, in addition to those involved in German Studies.

Dr Shulamith Behr