New: Visualising the Nation

Explore how the arts have created national identities and nationalism. Monumental art, national symbols and paintings preserve a shared history and commemorate heroes believed to embody civic virtues, including a willingness to die for ones country.

Who is this course for

No prior knowledge is necessary but a good understanding of English is essential. If you wish to read before the course the following book is recommend: A.D. Smith, The Nation Made Real: Art and National Identity in Western Europe, 1600-1850

What does this course cover

We begin by defining what we mean by 'nation', 'nation state' and 'nationalism' and look at how the visual arts were used in the pre-modern era to engender a sense of 'nation' Historians have suggested that the first modern state emerged during the rule of the Tudors (1485-1603). However, it is during the reign of James I (1603-1625) that we see the emergence of the Union Jack and reference to 'Great Britain'. We will explore how symbols personifying 'the nation' came into being. Painters such as David and Boilly were used to promote ideals of civic virtue and citizenship by the French Revolutionaries of 1789. The Romantic Movement of the nineteenth century, in tandem with the rise of European nation states, fuelled nationalistic fervour in the portrayal of the physical landscape and heroic figures of the past. All this contributed to the creation of shared histories - what Benedict Anderson has described as imagined communities. There will be a fieldtrip to the Wallace Collection
By the end of this course you should be able to:
- Explain why historians have seen the Tudor period as marking the beginnings of the modern state
- Identify symbols used in French Revolutionary art to denote ideals of civic virtue
- Contribute to a discussion on the use of the female form as a nationalistic symbol
- Define what is meant by Romantic Nationalism
- Use the knowledge gained on this course to identify nationalistic elements in paintings and other artistic mediums

What will it be like

Each week there will be an informative talk using PowerPoint and group discussion of nationalistic imagery. You will be encouraged to share your thoughts and ideas in a relaxed and friendly environment. Occasionally homework reading will be provided. Although this is not an accredited course leading to a formal qualification, you will be encouraged to complete a self-assessment form in which you can monitor your progress.

What else do you need to buy or do

Entry to the Wallace Collection is free but there will be public transport costs to consider. You are advised to bring note-taking materials to all sessions.

What this course could lead to

You might consider enrolling on other history/history of art courses run by the Centre.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’