The picture of health: medicine in art from ancient to modern Europe
Time: 10:30 - 13:00
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
Course Code: VB866
Duration: 2 sessions (over 2 weeks)
What is the course about?
In this short, weekend course we explore art's ability to visualise the complexities of health and healing. The course moves chronologically through Western European medicine, beginning with the ancient Greeks and their theory of the four humours. From there we explore representations of astrology and nature in the Medieval manuscripts before moving into a discussion of 'art as health' in the early modern era. We then think about the ethics of medical documentation and artistic rendering in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course wraps up with a look at contemporary art and medicine, issues of visualisation and empathy. Examples of artists discussed in the course include: Albrecht Dürer, Nan Goldin, Limbourg Brothers, Rembrandt, Henry Tonks and Deborah Kelly.
This course uses specific examples of artworks as 'ways into' bigger cultural concepts about medicine, health and illness. It is focused on visual art and it provides a generalised overview of selected medical practices. With specific case studies of artworks, it emphasises art as a valuable tool to understanding the connection of culture and medicine, including how people visualised and concieved of health. Overall, it is designed to get us thinking about art as valuable tool for discussing cultural concepts about the human body and how people have treated and cared for it.
This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
• The Classical Greek body: the four humours, balance and beauty
• The Medieval body: astrology and the human body in nature
• The early modern body: mortality and morality
• The modern and contemporary body: ethics and the humanity of medicine.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
After lecture and discussion you should be able to:
• Explain how art can be an important tool in visualising medical practice and beliefs
• Discuss at least two examples of artworks that depict medical thought
• Discuss at least one of the key social, political or intellectual goals associated with representing health in Western European history.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for all levels.
You should be able to follow simple written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, hand-outs and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with lecture, slide presentations, group discussion and Q&A.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to bring a notebook. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
You might also be interested in:
VB620 - Focus on: Leonardo da Vinci
VB857 - Art and science.
Sarah Jaffray holds a BA and MA in Art History with an emphasis in 19th/20th century France and a minor in the Italian Renaissance. She holds a second MA in Cultural Theory from Goldsmiths, University of London. Sarah was a lecturer for several colleges and universities in the Los Angeles area before relocating to London in 2012. She has worked in curatorial roles at the British Museum and Wellcome Collection. In addition to her current teaching at City Lit, Sarah is a lecturer at the University of Arts London and the Tutor Coordinator for City Lit's Art History programme. Her art historical practice focuses on experimental narratives, artistic process, art pedagogy, politics and philosophy. Sarah's current research is focused on translation and empathy.
Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.