This Course is Expired

Indian Art: A History

This course will examine the great diversity of art produced in South Asia over two thousand years, relating it to the contemporary religious and political environment.
University of Oxford University Offices Wellington Square Oxford ,OX1 2JD United Kingdom
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Course at a Glance

Mode of learning : Online - Instructor Lead(LVC)

Domain / Subject : Arts & Design

Function : General

Trainer name : Dr Malini Roy

Starts on : 17th Sep 2014

Duration : 10 Weeks

Difficulty : Advanced

About the course

The god Shiva dancing in a ring of fire and the white marble Taj Mahal are two of the most famous images from the rich artistic heritage of the Indian Subcontinent. This course will look at the great range of sculptures, paintings and buildings produced in South Asia over two thousand years, relating them to the contemporary religious and political environment.

The material examined includes the Buddha image, the multitude of Hindu deities and their temples, the rich and delicately ornamented court paintings of the Mughals and Rajputs, and the impact of European colonialism on the traditional arts of South Asia. This course will enrich the knowledge of participants who have travelled in South Asia or who wish to travel there for work or pleasure, and will appeal to anyone with an interest in the history of art outside Europe and the West.

Course Aim

This course aims to introduce students to the art of South Asia by:

  • Examining a range of approaches to understanding works of art from South Asia.
  • Discussing specific case-studies alongside directed reading.

This course will:

  • provide an overview of the religious and cultural history of the Indian Subcontinent over 2000 years.
  • introduce the main developments in the history of South Asian art in this period, including Buddhist and Hindu architecture and sculpture, paintings and architecture from the Rajput and Mughal courts, and the impact of European colonialism.
  • examine the religious, ritual, social and political contexts in which these buildings and objects were made and used.

Assessment methods

Assessment for this course is based on two written assignments - one short assignment due half way through the course and one longer assignment due at the end of the course. Students will have about two weeks to complete each assignment.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts.
  • Group asynchronous discussion of issues, vocabulary and specific objects/images.
  • Individual internet research on specific images or topics.
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders.

Teaching outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to understand:

  • The religious, social and political contexts for the production and use of South Asian art and architecture.
  • The vocabulary appropriate for the analysis of South Asian art and architecture.
  • The broad chronological and historical development of South Asian art from the 3rd century BC to the present.
  • The ways in which the presentation of South Asian art, whether in the context of a museum, temple, or exhibition, affects our perceptions of it.

By the end of this course students will have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to critically analyse sculpture, paintings and architecture from South Asia using appropriate vocabulary.
  • The ability to constructively criticise the approaches and methods of art historians.

Course eligibility

Course Requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.

Recommended reading

To participate in the course you will need to have regular access to the Internet and you will need to buy the following paperback book: 

  • Dehejia, Vidya, Indian Art (Phaidon, London, 1998) ISBN 0714834963
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Course Content

The areas you will cover in this course are:

  • Introduction and a starting point: Where is South Asia?
  • Stupas and storytelling Relics, ritual and Buddhist architecture
  • The image of the Buddha
  • Seeing God
  • Approaching the temple
  • Who’s Who in Hindu India Art and Hindu mythology
  • Mosques and mausolea – Indo-Islamic architecture Islamic South Asia 1200-1750.
  • Painting for the Mughal emperor
  • Art from the Rajput courts
  • Colonialism and Modernity 1750-1950


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