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.

Modern Art on Paper: prints, photography, and graphic art, 1880-1918 HISTART5137

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • 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
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the contribution of prints, photographs, drawings, and other works on paper to the rise of 'modern art' in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Particular attention is given to the close association of print and graphic techniques with the ideals of spontaneity and instantaneity that were integral to the rise of 'modern art', and the ways this fostered stylistic innovation, 'new' forms of imagery such as the poster, and beliefs that print-making and photography were inherently 'democratic'. At the same time, attention is given to the rise of the 'aesthetic' print, the illustrated book, and the 'little magazine', and of specialist exhibition groups, such as the Société des Aquafortistes, and Royal Photographic Society. Learning and teaching will involve a case-study approach, supported by the University's and city's rich collections of prints, photographs and graphic art (including Whistler and circle as well as important antecedents such as Rembrandt).


1 hour lecture per week x 10 weeks; 1 hour seminar each week for 6 weeks plus 2 x 2 hr visits to a museum/gallery/exhibition/collection (or variant of this).

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses





One set exercise worth 20% - the student will have a choice of several assessment options: an individually Assessed Group Presentation (20mins), an Object Analysis (c. 1,000 - 1,500 words), or an individual text contribution (c. 1,000-1,500 words) to a Group Project.

One essay worth 80%.

Course Aims

This course aims to :

■ provide the student with a stimulating and original introduction to the distinctive features of modern print-making and graphic art (including photography), through first-hand case-studies in local collections; 

■ foster students' acquisition of in-depth knowledge and understanding of significant examples of graphic/reproductive art c. 1880-1918, and their contribution to the rise of modern art, through attention to technical, contextual, and theoretical perspectives;

■ enable students to develop an advanced understanding of selected period and modern interpretations of 19th-early 20th-century graphic and reproductive art, and of the contributions of its leading practitioners;

■ encourage students to become self-reflective, 'deep' learners by engaging with a range of scholarly debates in the field of reproductive and graphic art, and by applying insights from other disciplines to study of iconography, styles, techniques, and exhibition/patronage history;

■ equip students with advanced oral and written skills of critical assessment, visual analysis, and theoretical interpretation of the subject-matter, style, technique, and historical/cultural significance of selected examples of graphic and reproductive art c. 1880-1918.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ evaluate critically the characteristic iconographies, styles and techniques of 'modern' print-making, graphic art, and photography, and their relationship to earlier artistic practices;

■ critically synthesise evidence, ideas and perspectives derived from in-depth engagement with primary and secondary sources to reach valid assessments of the historical, cultural, aesthetic, and technical significance of individual reproductive and graphic works by key artists, and of the period reception of these works;

■ critically apply relevant theories and interdisciplinary perspectives to assess the contribution to 'modern' art of the techniques, methods, styles, and iconography of reproductive and graphic art c. 1880-1918, and of specialist exhibition groups such as the Society of Etchers in Paris and the Royal Photographic Society in Britain;

■ communicate information and conclusions about print-making, graphic art and photography, c. 1880-1918, their contribution to 'modern' art, and their reception and critical interpretation;

■ effectively deploy research and time-management skills to gather, interpret and organise a range of diverse evidence relating to this field;

■ enhance personal knowledge, understanding and skills through self-directed learning and advanced problem-solving in this field.

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.