The unit will investigate the nature of art in the context of debates about some of the cultures and conflicts that characterise the modern era. Our enquiry will focus on three core problems in the philosophy and history of modern art. The first is to define the modern era and, more specifically, the nature of modernity in the arts. The second problem is to retrace and explain the links between art and science during the modern era. The third problem is to identify the social functions of the arts in modern societies. To address these problems, students will consider how classic theories of art and modernity tackle key questions about the effects and social roles of canonical works of modern art. The unit will engage with case studies that will lead us to debates on the role of technology in the arts, the moral challenges posed by propaganda arts during wars, the significance of the avant-garde, and the development of environmental arts. Students will acquire decision making skills that are essential to art criticism, the historical and philosophical analysis of modernity, and the defence of their views in clearly written argumentative essays.
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