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2019/20 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF3100 Encountering Things: Art and Entanglement in Anglo-Saxon England

20 creditsClass Size: 18

Module manager: Professor Catherine Karkov

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2019/20

Module replaces


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Objects and images do not exist on their own, but only as parts of networks or entanglements. Rather than interacting they intra-act with (mutually constitute) the world—place, time, other objects, the viewers who encounter them. Indeed, it has been argued that objects do not exist outside of our encounters with them in time and in place, the world in them and them in the world, and that knowing itself is a material practice. Encountering things in this way also helps us to rework temporal and disciplinary boundaries, breaking down binaries such as then/now, there/here, or them/us.


This module will focus on art in Anglo-Saxon England, exploring aspects of its materials and materiality through the lens of diffraction theory. How did matter (earth, stone, skin, bone) matter? How is the work of art created in our encounter with it, and what sort of an art-work is it? At the same time, how are those who created, viewed and used these objects simultaneously created in that same moment? Diffraction theory is concerned with what is produced in the moment or process of encounter, so we must also ask how the boundary between subject and object continues to be broken down today. We will be reading primary texts (in translation) that explore the ways in which the Anglo-Saxons thought about things, materials, and the world around them, and that also reveal how objects spoke back. These texts will be complemented by secondary sources that will help us both to theorise and to historicise multiple types of objects and materials.

Learning outcomes
Critical analysis of primary and secondary sources
- Understanding of key concepts in contemporary critical theory and critical humanities
- Verbal fluency in constructing a logical and coherent argument
- Research skills
- Collaborative skills
- Participation in class discussions
- Analysis of images, texts and objects
- Professionalism in planning, organisation and delivery of final conference


Week 1: Introduction: Artworks as phenomena
Week 2: Stone
Week 3: Stone continued
Week 4: Skin
Week 5: Skin continued
Week 6: optional field trip to Durham, the city, the shrine, the cathedral
Week 7: Short essays and discussion
Week 8: Bodies and bones
Week 9: Bodies and bones
Weeks 10 and 11: Conference

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment22.004.00
Group learning72.0014.00
Private study hours166.00
Total Contact hours34.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Optional field trip included in private study time

The two essays will require extensive research, and the conference presentation will require significant preparation. Weekly readings and preparation of in-class discussions of them will also require independent study on a regular basis.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored through weekly participation in seminars, through the short mid-term essay (and participation in discussion groups of these essays), and through preparation for and participation in the final conference.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 1,000-2,00025.00
Essay1 x 3,000-4,00050.00
PresentationClass participation and final conference presentation25.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/08/2019


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