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School of History

HST5413 - Art and the City from Michelangelo to Blade Runner

Module code: HST5413

Credits: 15

Module Convenor: Dr Hannah Williams

In our current climate of rapid urbanization, this module explores histories of art and the city from the Renaissance to the present. From Michelangelo’s sculpture of David (1504) on a public square in Florence, to Ridley Scott’s dystopian vision of Los Angeles in Blade Runner (1982), via Impressionist views of 19th-century Paris, and graffiti on the Berlin wall, we will be thinking about how artists have engaged with cities and how that has changed over time. What crucial roles do artworks play in city space, whether political, commercial, commemorative, or subversive? How has art shaped the history and development of cities? And what impact does it have on the experience of our urban environments?

This module explores a range of urban sites and spaces (squares, streets, walls, transport systems, parks) and different kinds of artworks (public sculpture, painting, monuments, street art, photography, film), with case studies from cities around the world. Students will have the opportunity to engage with their own urban environment and explore critical themes including: boundaries and borders; community and civic identity; crime and transgression; religion; memory; mobility; dystopia; and iconoclasm.

Assessment: Seminar Participation 10%, Blog Post 30%, Essay 60%
Level: 5

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