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Art and its global histories

This module presents a new history of art, starting with the Renaissance, when Europeans encountered a new range of desirable objects from across the globe. It then explores the role of art and architecture in colonial expansion up to 1800, before looking in depth at art and culture in British India. It concludes by analysing the globalisation of artistic practice from the twentieth century to the present day. The module highlights the vital role that art has played in the stories that Europeans have told about the wider world, and suggests ways in which these stories might be challenged or revised.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code
A344
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
60
Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.

OU SCQF FHEQ
3 10 6
Study method
Distance Learning
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements
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What you will study

You may be familiar with Renaissance altarpieces or Dutch still lives, but have you ever noticed that they sometimes include depictions of luxury goods imported from across the world? Did you know that the British architect Edwin Lutyens was responsible for designing the capital of modern India? Why did the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei fill Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall with porcelain sunflower seeds? These are just some of the fascinating questions that are addressed by the rich range of material, shaped by cross-cultural encounters, addressed in the four blocks that comprise this module. As the module progresses, you are expected to develop a degree of independence in learning to the extent that you are able to complete independent analyses using the skills you have learned in the course of your study.

Block 1: European Art and the Wider World c. 1350-1550
You will examine art and visual culture during Europe’s ‘age of exploration’. What happened when art objects moved between different cultures, or were created in a cross-cultural context? Imported objects that appealed to wealthy Europeans (such as Islamic metal-ware, Chinese porcelain, or African ivories) became prized luxury goods to be imitated, collected, or depicted in paint. In Spain, Islamic, Jewish and Christian cultures created a fusion of architectural styles such as in the world-renowned Alhambra palace, shaped from the Red Fortress (Qal'at al-Hamra) built under Muslim rule. Venice was the trading hub that exemplified the meeting of Europe, Byzantium, and the Islamic world in its architecture, luxury commodities and art. 

Block 2: Art, Commerce and Colonialism 1600-1800 
You will explore art and visual culture of a period in which the major European powers competed with each other for global dominance. The influx of ‘exotic’ goods, above all from Asia, transformed European taste and artistic production, including seventeenth-century Dutch painting, and gave rise to the vogue for ‘Chinoiserie’ in eighteenth-century Britain. Art and architecture were exported across the Atlantic to Latin America, where some of the most spectacular works of the Baroque era were created, as well as to North America, where Thomas Jefferson built his ideal classical villa, Monticello. Local circumstances and cultural traditions helped to shape the transfer of art works, and artistic models from one context to another. A key theme for this book is the relationship of art and visual culture to slavery and the slave trade.

Block 3: Empire and Art: British India 
This block invites you to explore the role of the visual arts in the British Empire by examining artistic interactions between Britain and India. You will discover how British painters and photographers responded to India and how the encounter with British art initiated new Indian art traditions that ranged from the vernacular to the rise of modern Indian painting and experiments with photography. And did you know that the principles of Indian designs informed the teaching of British artisans, and how the droplet-shaped motif on Kashmir shawls became associated with the Scottish town of Paisley? The question of imperial architecture will also feature, and you will examine the arguments that were made for and against European classicism and the mixed architectural styles of the Indo-Gothic and so-called Indo-Saracenic. 

Block 4: Art after Empire: from Colonialism to Globalisation 
In this final block you'll explore the relationship between art and visual culture in Europe and the ‘wider world’ from the early 20th century through to the contemporary era of globalisation. Artists such as Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse appropriated non-Western art in ways that would later be deemed to be Eurocentric, whereas in the interwar period avant-garde artists such as the Surrealists were radically anti-imperialist. The complex interaction between art, politics and post-colonial struggles is explored in the work of Diego Rivera and Mexican muralist painters as well as more recent installation, multi-media and film (including work by Mona Hatoum, Chantal Ackerman and Ai Weiwei). You will study the role of museums, international exhibitions and biennials, alongside patterns of artistic migration across continents and the growing use of communication technologies under globalisation. 

Supporting learning resources
The module makes use of a number of interactive resources accessed via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Both video and audio materials will give you the opportunity to view films shot inside museums or, on location, in front of monuments. The module will also provide you with the opportunity to engage with programmes from the BBC and the OU archives as well as exciting new material filmed for the OU as part of the landmark BBC television series Civilisations.

You will use Open Design Studio at several points in your study of the module and this will enable you to collaborate with other students by sharing images. Online forums will also help you exchange ideas with your peers as well as the module team.

You will learn

By studying this module you will:

  • gain knowledge and understanding of diverse cultural contexts in which works of art were produced, consumed and interpreted in Europe and beyond
  • ​gain knowledge and understanding of artistic practice as it has been shaped by cultural exchanges along trade routes and within key geographic centres
  • engage critically with works of art, primary texts and secondary sources, drawing appropriate conclusions based on this evidence
  • become familiar with current scholarship and a range of theoretical approaches in relation to studying art history and visual culture from a global perspective
  • develop a degree of independence in producing reasoned arguments that engage with the themes and academic debates around the global nature of art.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. Where your tutorials are held depends on the distribution of students taking the module.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box above.

You must use the online eTMA system to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs).

Future availability

Art and its global histories starts once a year – in October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2018. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2028.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the academic regulations which are available on our Essential Documents website.

    Course work includes:

    5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
    End-of-module assessment
    No residential school


    Entry requirements

    This is an OU level 3 module. OU level 3 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from studies at OU levels 1 and 2. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU. 

    If you have any doubt about the suitability of the module, please speak to an adviser.

    Register

    Start End England fee Register
    06 Oct 2018 Jun 2019 £2928.00

    Registration closes 13/09/18 (places subject to availability)

    Register
    This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2028.

    Additional Costs

    Study costs

    There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

    If you're on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

    Ways to pay for this module

    Open University Student Budget Account

    The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

    You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

    • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
    • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

    Joint loan applications

    If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

    As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

    Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).  

    Employer sponsorship

    Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

    More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

    • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
    • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

    Credit/debit card

    You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

    We accept American Express, Maestro (UK only), Mastercard, Visa/Delta and Visa Electron. 

    Mixed payments

    We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


    For more information about combining payment options, speak to an adviser or book a call back at a time convenient to you.


    Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2019. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees. 

    This information was provided on 18/08/2018.

    What's included

    Module books, primary and secondary sources as PDFs, a website with interactive audio and visual material, and access to a range of scholarly resources including journals and electronic books.

    Computing requirements

    A computing device with a browser and broadband internet access is required for this module.  Any modern browser will be suitable for most computer activities. Functionality may be limited on mobile devices.

    Any additional software will be provided, or is generally freely available. However, some activities may have more specific requirements. For this reason, you will need to be able to install and run additional software on a device that meets the requirements below.

    A desktop or laptop computer with either:

    • Windows 7 or higher
    • macOS 10.7 or higher

    The screen of the device must have a resolution of at least 1024 pixels horizontally and 768 pixels vertically.

    To participate in our online-discussion area you will need both a microphone and speakers/headphones. 

    Our Skills for OU study website has further information including computing skills for study, computer security, acquiring a computer and Microsoft software offers for students. 

    Materials to buy

    Set books

    • Newall, D. (ed.) Art and its Global Histories: A Reader Manchester University Press £17.99 - ISBN 9781526119926

    If you have a disability

    The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying A344 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

    To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our Overcoming barriers to study if you have a disability or health condition website.