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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

ARTF3111 Art of the Silk Roads

20 creditsClass Size: 20

Module manager: Catherine Karkov

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

ARTF5111MArt of the Silk Roads

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The ‘Silk Roads’ were a complex of networks that connected China, Japan, the Indian Subcontinent, the Middle East, East Africa, and the Mediterranean world from antiquity through to the fifteenth century. This module introduces students to some of the key centres and routes along these networks, exploring questions of cultural connectivity, collaboration, and innovation. It will interrogate ideas about and definitions of borders, cultural and religious identity, confrontation, collaboration, and appropriation by considering the role and agency of artworks within a series of interconnected mercantile, religious and social networks. It also explores the ways in which art (and sometimes artistic techniques) were created, exchanged, looted, censored, destroyed, and repurposed through time and across geographies. Along the way we will critique key concepts such as “global”. “world-system”, “postcolonial”, and “entanglement”. It is concerned, in other words, with what we can learn from artworks in motion and the impact they have had on an art history beyond Europe.


The objectives of this module are to provide students with an interdisciplinary perspective on the art and cultures of the Silk Roads and to enable them to think critically about modern definitions of networks, borders and the “global”, as well as disciplinary and theoretical paradigms. As a complex of hubs and connective roadways the Silk Roads helped to facilitate not only artistic exchange but also generated fluid and evolving cultures that encouraged artistic and technological innovation across multiple political, religious, and social formations.

Learning outcomes
Students will be able to demonstrate:

1.Knowledge of the range of art produced by the multiple cultures and religions that were part of the Silk Roads.

2. An understanding of the underlying methodologies and theoretical frameworks that have informed the study of the art of the Silk Roads.

3. The ability to analyse and compare material regionally, inter-regionally, and across disciplinary boundaries.

4.The ability to formulate and support a scholarly argument.

5. The ability to undertake independent research and to critically assess both primary and secondary sources.

Skills outcomes
The module develops students’ skills in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural thinking and analysis. It asks them to locate their visual analysis and interpretation of images in the context of differing belief systems, political structures and regimes, and social practices. It asks them to think critically about art and heritage within the context of the literary texts and social institutions and systems of the period within which the art was produced and within the context of contemporary critical theory (for example, network theory, border theory, entanglement theory) and heritage practices.


Part I: Introduction to the Roads and their cultures

Part 2: Networks of exchange will look at, for example, the art of trading centres, oases, gift exchange, and artistic workshops.

Part 3: Networks of devotion will focus on the arts of the different religions that flourished amongst the silk road cultures and the ways in which they interacted with each other.

Part 4: Networks of Entertainment focuses on, for example, books and storytelling, music and dancing, feasting, celebrations, gardens and landscapes.

Part 5: Networks of display and heritage considers the way in which the past was displayed along the silk roads both in the Middle Ages and today.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Weekly readings (50 hours); research for essay 1 (60 hours); research for essay 2 (70 hours)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be offered on both essays with feedback on the first essay feeding into preparation for the second essay.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 word essay40.00
Essay3000 word essay60.00
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: 30/06/2021 16:04:49


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