Global Arts: connected histories (to 1800)

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of History of Art and Archaeology & School of Arts

Module overview

Based around the three broad themes of Religion, Trade and Empire, this module examines a series of individual objects in context from across Asia and Africa to explore the role of material and visual culture in understanding the history of global connectivity.

Each case-study will demonstrate the transmission of ideas, motifs, materials, objects and people within Asia and Africa and in interaction with Europe, over around 1500 years from the 2nd-3rd to the 18th centuries CE. By de-centring Europe, this module will examine the precolonial networks of globalisation, challenge the regional divisions of Area Studies and critically engage with concepts relevant to the study of the connected histories of global art including appropriation and reception.

In addition to introducing techniques of visual analysis for students new to the History of Art, this module will also offer an overview of the history of Asia and Africa over 1500 years.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the social, religious and political contexts for the production of art in Asia and Africa before the 19th century.
  • Examine the role of trade, religion and empire to the production and use of art.
  • Critically describe and analyse objects from Asia and Africa using appropriate vocabulary.
  • Demonstrate a range of skills in visual and literary analysis, research and other study skills for successful academic and vocational pathways.


  • Lectures: 2 hours per week
  • Seminars: 1 hour per week

Scope and syllabus

The examples of objects and works of art produced in Asia - including the Middle East, South, Southeast and East Asia - and Africa between the 2nd-3rd and 18th centuries CE will vary each year but will include examples of sculpture, paintings and other media such as ceramics. Examples may include Buddha images from Gandhara (ancient central Asia), Chinese Tang-period tomb figures, an Angkorian image of the Hindu deity Vishnu, brass plaques from Benin in West Africa, an Ilkhanid dynasty painting from Mongol-period Iran, an Ottoman Iznik tile, a 17th-century portrait of the Mughal emperor in India, Edo-period Japanese print, or Ming dynasty ceramics.

Method of assessment

  • One exam (worth 35%)
  • One 500-word object analysis (worth 25%)
  • One 1,500-word essay/report (worth 40%)

Suggested reading

  • Rebecca M. Brown, and Deborah S. Hutton. A Companion to Asian Art and Architecture. Chichester, West Sussex, U.K. ; Malden, Mass.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011.
  • Craig Clunas, Art in China, 2nd ed., Oxford History of Art (Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 2009).
  • Vidya Dehejia, Indian Art (London: Phaidon, 1997).
  • Finbarr Barry Flood and Gulru Necipoglu, eds., A Companion to Islamic Art and Architecture, 2 vols, Blackwell Companions to Art History (Somerset: John Wiley & Sons, 2017).
  • Peter S. Garlake, Early Art and Architecture of Africa. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Salami Gitti and Monica Blackmun Visonà, eds., A Companion to Modern African Art, (Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley Blackwell, 2013).
  • Robert Hillenbrand, Islamic Art and Architecture, World of Art (London: Thames and Hudson, 1999).
  • J. P. Park, Burglind Jungmann, and Juhyung Rhi, eds., A Companion to Korean Art (Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2020).
  • Martin J. Powers and Katherine R. Tsiang, eds., A Companion to Chinese Art (Chichester, West Sussex, UK; Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2015).
  • Grove Dictionary of Art.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules