PHIL20630 Art and Society

Academic Year 2023/2024

Is art important? What does the place of art tell us about society? Would it matter if all art and all places of art – galleries, cinemas, concert halls, libraries, theatres, live music venues, etc. – disappeared? Why? Is there something about making art or about enjoying art that tells us something about what it means to be a human being? What happens when we watch a good film, see a powerful painting, or are moved by a new piece of music? How is art produced by different groups of people received differently? In this module we look for answers to these and related questions through an examination of the work of European philosophers predominantly from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

The aim of the module is twofold: firstly, to give students a broad overview of the history of recent European thinking on art and its relationship to society. Secondly, to provide students with the conceptual tools to articulate and interrogate their own views of art. Students are strongly encouraged to bring their own examples to class, to ask questions, and to reflect on their own experiences of art works as either producers or consumers.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of this module, students will have:
• A broad understanding of philosophical approaches to art in the continental tradition
• Developed their own capacity to interpret artworks as cultural objects produced at specific socio-historical moments
• Interrogated the relationship between art and political power.

Indicative Module Content:

Karl Marx – art and the human condition

Division I: Classic Aesthetic Readings
Freedom and progress – Immanuel Kant, Wilhelm Gottfried Hegel, Germaine de Staël

Division II: Phenomenology and the Experience of Art
Revelation and responsibility – Simone de Beauvoir, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Merleau-Ponty

Division III: Critical Theory
Technology and reproduction – Theodore Adorno, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin

Division IV: Politics and Art
Is all art political? – Alain Badiou, Chantal Mouffe, Jacques Rancière

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Students will learn by participating in weekly lectures and small group tutorials.

One of the overarching aims of the module is to provide students with philosophical concepts and frameworks to investigate artistic products and practices for themselves.

The end of trimester assessment will be decided in consultation with students.

Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Recommendations:

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Assignment: End of trimester project to be decided by students - 15minute podcast or 3,000 word essay. Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Essay: 1,500 word essay Week 4 n/a Graded No


Continuous Assessment: Tutorial attendance and participation Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on essays will be provided by the module co-ordinator within three weeks of submission. A dedicated drop-in session for further face to face feedback will also be available. Students will be required to submit an abstract for their project before the deadline, feedback will be provided on this to direct the student further in their research.

Name Role
Paraskevi Anastasia Filea Tutor
Ms Clémence Saintemarie Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Mon 14:00 - 14:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Thurs 16:00 - 16:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50