Media and Technologies of Art

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Year 1
Term 1
Module code
FHEQ Level

Module overview

The objects studied by art historians are often encountered in two dimensions as photographs or digital media even when three-dimensional, such as buildings or sculptures.

This module introduces the media, materials and technologies of art history in order to consider how the processes of production of objects affect the evaluation of their meanings and use. Considering the scale, choice and source of material(s), the techniques and tools used to work the object are all issues to be considered in understanding a work of art.

The selection of materials, media or techniques used may raise questions about the status of the object: was the material rare or considered to have sacred properties? Was it difficult to work? Was it only available in certain sizes or shapes? Does the material or technology require special skills to produce or work? Does it enable reproduction? All these issues may be raised by the examination of the materials, media and technologies of art.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

LO1) understand a range of different artistic techniques and technologies of production.
LO2) identify a range of artistic materials and media including types of stone, metal, paper, cloth, photographs.
LO3) evaluate the significance of media and technologies to the meanings and function of objects in Asia and Africa.
LO4) demonstrate a range of skills in visual and literary analysis, research and other study skills for successful academic and vocational pathways.

The learning outcomes for this course are in line with those of the History of Art & Archaeology department as a whole with its emphasis on the analysis of visual and material culture from a range of themes and within an understanding of the social, political, religious and cultural contexts for the production and use of art.


  • Lectures: 2hrs per week
  • Seminars: 1 hr per week
  • Independent study: 120 hrs (over 10 weeks)

Scope and syllabus

The media to be discussed may include stone, bronze, ceramic, wood, painting (both wall and on paper or cloth), printing, photograph, performance.

Case-studies may include hardstone carving in early India; bronze-casting in Benin or south India, ceramics in China, wood carving in central/southern Africa, painting in Middle East, East or South Asia, wall painting in the Himalayas or SE Asia, printing in East Asia, photography anywhere, masquerade in West Africa and/or contemporary performance art

Key words: art, artefact.

Method of assessment

  • 750-word object analysis (worth 30% of marks)
  • 2,000-word visual report (worth 60%)
  • Seminar participation and logbook entries (worth 10%)

Suggested reading

  • Jonathan Bloom, Paper before Print: The History and Impact of Paper in the Islamic World (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2001).
  • Graham Clarke, The Photograph. Oxford ; New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • John Guy, Indian Temple Sculpture (London: V&A Publications, 2007).
  • Gülru Necipoğlu and Alina Payne, eds., Histories of Ornament: From Global to Local (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2016).
  • Nicholas Penny, The Materials of Sculpture (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1993).
  • Stacey Pierson, Chinese Ceramics (London: V&A, 2009).



Professor Anna Contadini


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules