Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Art, Embodiment, Transgression HISTART5004

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The purpose of this course is to investigate the special role of the body as a focus for

transgressive art practice in the twentieth century. In particular, various forms of

'body art' from the 1960s onwards which attack normative notions of embodiment

and identity will be addressed.


Ten weekly 2-hour lecture/seminar sessions

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level

Excluded Courses





Essay (4,000 words) (80%) plus 15 min oral presentation (20%)

Course Aims

This course aims to:


provide detailed knowledge of art practices which thematize the body and embodiment in transgressive and radical ways.

provide a theoretical and historical context for understanding such art works.

enable students to develop a sophisticated knowledge of key interpretative approaches.

critically address issues relating to contemporary 'body politics,' including questions of gender identity, sexuality, race, and ethnicity.

present and discuss critical/ theoretical texts as primary source material and develop students' abilities in dealing with such sources

encourage self-reflexive 'deep' learning through engagement with critical texts, participation in seminar discussions, and use of Moodle web-forums.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

escribe the work of relevant body art and performance artists in detailed and apposite terms.

Explain key philosophical and theoretical concepts at stake in artistic interventions on/ in the body in sophisticated and specific ways.


Produce sustained arguments which relate historical changes in society to those in artistic practice in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Apply the various approaches to the body taught on the course to the political dimensions of embodiment, and the role of 'transgression' in relation to these.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.