History of Art MA

Publishing the Avant-Garde: a history of artists' books and magazines from 1900 to 1970 HISTART4079

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Culture and Creative Arts
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course examines the history of avant-garde art publishing practices in Europe and North America between 1900 and 1970. It will examine artists' books and magazines as well as other forms of publication produced by avant-garde art movements of this time period in relation to the broad themes of the publication as artwork, the publication as object and the publication as means of dissemination.


1 x 1hr lecture; 1 x 1hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in History of Art and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Examination (120 minutes duration) - 60%

Essay (2,500 words) - 30%

Seminar presentation of 10 minutes accompanied by 800 word paper or PowerPoint slides - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:


■ introduce students to the ways in which publishing was of fundamental importance to avant-garde artistic practice of the twentieth-century.

■ consider the importance of individual artists' engagement and experimentation with books and magazines as artworks, as objects and as a means of dissemination of avant-garde ideals.

■ give students an opportunity to assess the significance and legacy of avant-garde art movements of the twentieth century beyond the context of painting and sculpture.

■ provide an opportunity for visual analysis of book art works and the discussion of critical texts and theories relating to artists' books of the twentieth century.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ explain key developments in avant-garde art publishing from 1900 to 1970.

■ use critical theories of publishing, artists' books and magazines effectively in relation to the overall course topic.

■ visually analyse and critique publications, and adapt art-historical methods to the study of books and magazines.

■ show the capacity to research, structure and present their written and verbal arguments and methodological positions independently.

■ think critically about publishing and to analyse and assess individual publications and wider publishing strategies verbally and in writing.

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.