History Department - Courses

ART – HISTORY – POLITICS, 19th – 20th century

Teaching Staff: Martini Aitolia - Aikaterini
Course Code: ΑΙΤ203
Course Type: Compulsory Elective
Course Level: Undergraduate
Course Language: Greek
Delivery method: In the classroom
Semester: 7

Short Description:

This module examines selected products of activity in the realns of fine and applied arts dated between 1780 and 1980 in a manner that primarily considers their relations to social and political developments. It is rooted in the application of social art history, as developed during the 20th century primarily in the Anglo-Saxon countries. Nevertheless, the gradual revision of Marxist theories, from which it is derived and the growing interest in new, more independent means of visual expression (poster, photography, video) led to affiliations with semiotics, psychology and the re-evaluation of traditional identities (national, political, religious, racial, gender, etc). One major question is whether art works and other images can effectively function as historical sources. Additionally, it would be useful to examine the extent in which images created for communicating specific socio-political messages could also be considered as tokens of a discernible aesthetic statement.

Objectives - Learning Outcomes:

This module aims at helping the student grasp the ways in which an image can function as historical document and become familiar with its decoding. After successful completion, he/she would be able to apply the methods of historical, social and semiotic analysis in the reading of the image and to appreciate its oscillation between its aesthetic and didactic roles as well as its links with oral history.


Week 1: Introduction to the examination of images as documents for the development of ideas and events. Points of converge and divergence between history and art history. The conciliatory function of cultural history and the focus on oral evidence and private texts.

Week 2: Iconography – iconology and the roots of historical analysis of the visual arts. Paradigms from 19th century history painting.

Week 3: The social messages of religious and mythological painting from the Renaissance to the 21st century.

Week 4: From portraiture to photography: the cult of the leader and the usual rhetoric of propaganda (1780-1940).

Week 5: Material culture and its study throughout the images.

Week 6: Images of modern, urban life, the collective unconscious and the ambition of the flaneur

Week 7: Abstract arts and its subvertive historical messages.

Week 8: The image of the other: the work of the painter and the photographers in the realm of war and crime documentation.

Week 9: From visual narrative to cerebral symbol. The passive and the active reading of contemporary art.

Week 10: From subjective testimony to objective documentation: problems, opportunities and new developments.

Week 11: Direct and indirect interactions between text and image throughout the ages (intermedial relations).

Week 12: Snapshots of contemporary visual activity and the cultural afterlife of new icons.

Week 13: New media and the various demonstrations of modern and contemporary history.

Suggested Bibliography:
  • Burke, P., Αυτοψία. Η χρήση των εικόνων ως ιστορικών πηγών. Αθήνα, 2003
  • Bourke , J., Dismembering the Male: Men’s Bodies, Britain and the Great War. London, 1996.
  • Clark, T.J., The Absolute Bourgeois: Artists and Politics in France, 1848-1851.Berlkley, CA: University of California Press, 1999
  • Clark, J.T., The Painting of Modern Life: Paris in the Art of Manet and his followers. Princeton, NJ.: Princeton University Press, 1995
  • Eisenman, S. The Temptation of Saint Redon, Biography, Ideology and Style in the Noirs of Odilon Redon, Chicago, 1992
  • Hauser, A., Κοινωνική Ιστορία της τέχνης, τ. 3-4, Αθήνα, 1984
  • Hadjinicolaou, N., Art History and Class Struggle, London 1978
  • Χατζηνικολάου, Ν., Νοήματα της εικόνας, Ρέθυμνο, 1994

Teaching Methods:

Lectures – presentations – exercises

Evaluation Methods:

Written examination (60%)

Contribution to presentations, discussions, and exercises (10%)

Three essays of 1,000 words (30%)

Academic Calendar 2019-2020
Posted: 18-04-2019 18:05 | Updated: 26-08-2019 15:56