In this course we will explore the decorative arts, architecture and social identity of royal and noble sites in Scotland from the golden age of the Stuart monarchy through the Victorian era. The main focus will be on how objects, interiors, and exterior spaces functioned in their historical contexts and how these factors intersect with current trends in cultural heritage presentation and museum interpretation. Centering on sites of royal and noble connection, we will explore their historic fabric, material culture and expression of dramatic narratives within evocative settings; and, embracing the chequered histories of royalty in Scotland, we will utilise museum and gallery collections to encompass the various discourses of image, object and display that lie at the heart of issues of national identity. In doing so, we will encompass differing approaches to collecting and connecting, informed by constructions of identity and pride in ancient family, the Enlightenment, concepts of antiquarianism, scholarship and connoisseurship, and the introduction of new and varied courtly tastes
As the course is founded upon principles of direct learning, most of the classes take place in situ on visits to key examples of historic sites and museum collections, and they will feature study sessions and master classes by curators and specialists active in the research, preservation and conservation of Scotland’s historic buildings and collections. Visits will include Stirling Castle Palace, the focus of a recent ground-breaking project in re-creation, display and interpretation, Falkland Palace, the locus for royal progresses, leisure and recreation during the Scottish Renaissance, and Balmoral, a veritable expression of the royal love affair with the Scottish Highlands.
- To develop the student’s knowledge of issues, methodological approaches and historical practice employed in the development and study of the spaces and objects of noble and royal material culture and heritage in Scotland;
- to give students an opportunity for in-depth study of historic site architecture, decoration and design;
- to encourage direct experience of evaluating a range of primary objects;
- to promote object-based research by studying at first-hand the contents of these museum collections and buildings and exploring the relationship between the objects and their histories;
- to promote the acquisition of research and analytical skills appropriate to the study of the heritage environment; and 2
- to support the student in the development and application of research, oral and written presentation skills.
INTENDED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of the course students will be able to:
- demonstrate knowledge, understanding and critical awareness of the period, issues and material covered by the course;
- critically evaluate, within written work, a variety of sources and approaches relevant to the study of royal and noble heritage in Scotland;
- use a range of advanced and specialised descriptive and analytical skills appropriate to the study of relevant material culture, architecture, design and social history, and their contexts within the history of taste, collecting and heritage;
- discuss the range of approaches used by historic site architects, designers and craftsmen and women, as well as in interpretation and site presentation.
Most of the learning and teaching will take place in situ during visits to the houses and museums. Other classes will be held in History of Art, No. 8 University Gardens, room 101. All sessions to be led by Dr. Thea Stevens with additional guest lecturers and contributors. You will have access to books in both the main University Library and in the History of Art Resource Centre.
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