Visual culture in the age of European expansion ca. 1450-1750

Lecturer: Sim Hinman WAN

6 credits

This course examines art and architecture produced by and for Europeans in the context of the early-modern exploration and colonisation that brought European peoples into closer contact with a broader range of cultures than they had previously known. Beginning in the 15th century and continuing into the 18th, the processes of trade, religious conversion, scientific study, mass enslavement, conquest, and settlement that ensued established some of the foundations of the modern world; not least because of the new forms of visual representation Europeans adopted to better comprehend (and exploit) their expanding world. This course covers a broad range of objects relating to Europe and the Mediterranean, North America and Asia which exemplify the role of the visual arts in the social and intellectual transformations that accompanied colonialism, including paintings, sculptures, prints, maps, buildings, city plans, collections, fountains and gardens. Topics covered include the changing representation of cultural, gender, ethnic, and racial identity; new concepts of savagery and civilisation; the rise of colonial cities; the spread of Christianity; diplomacy across cultures; and scientific ‘curiosity’ and natural history.

100% coursework

At least one 2000-level Art History course

FINE2073 and FINE3021


“The course structure is very well-organised and the concepts are clearly presented, very informative course content.”

ARTH3021 student, 2017-2018

“Learned about a range of artifacts, paintings and objects, interesting and fun.”

ARTH3021 student, 2017-2018

“The field trip was awesome.”

ARTH3021 student, 2017-2018