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Literature and Visual Arts – A Journey in Style

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code LI158-101) • (0 classes) Course location to be confirmed •
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Course Summary

This interdisciplinary course explores four major artistic styles, Classical, Romantic, Gothic and Baroque, in both literature and the visual arts. Reading plays by Euripides and Racine and novels by José Saramago, Horace Walpole and Emily Brontë, we'll also study their counterparts in painting, architecture and sculpture. We’ll consider what we mean when we talk about a ‘style’ – and how it translates into different art forms.

This course will be co-taught by Rolland Man, Katja Robinson and David Wingrove.

Course Details

Content of Course

1. “What Do We Mean by Style?” Introduction to key concepts: Classical, Gothic, Baroque and Romantic.

2. The Classical Ideal Classical art and architecture.

3. Of Man and the Gods Classical and neo-classical drama: Hippolytus (Euripides) vs. Phaedra (Racine).

4. The Art of Darkness Gothic art and architecture.

5. Literature and the Gothic Revival The Gothic novel: The Castle of Otranto (Horace Walpole).

6. A Fanfare in Form Baroque art and architecture.

7. A Cathedral in Prose Baroque and the novel: Baltasar & Blimunda (José Saramago).

8. The Artifice of Nature Romantic art and architecture.

9. Passion and its Demons The Romantic novel: Wuthering Heights (Emily Brontë).

10. The Future of Style? Summary and comparisons between the four schools.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Explain the four different artistic and literary styles studied in their social, political and moral context;

  • Identify elements of contrasting styles and approaches, as well as the aims of different schools in the four periods studied;

  • Discuss the ways in which one art form may influence another.


Core Readings


  • Brontë, Emily 2004 Wuthering Heights, London, Penguin Classics

  • Euripides & Vellacott, Philip 2005 Three Plays: ‘Alcestis’, ‘Hippolytus’, ‘Iphigenia in Tauris’, London, Penguin Classics

  • Racine, Jean & Cairncross, John 2004 Iphigenia/Phaedra/Athaliah, London, Penguin Classics

  • Saramago, José 2001 Baltasar & Blimunda, London, Vintage Classics

  • Walpole, Horace 2002 The Castle of Otranto, London, Penguin Classics


  • Gombrich, Ernst 1995 The Story of Art (16th revised edition), London, Phaidon

  • Graham-Dixon, Andrew (ed.) 2008 Art: The Definitive Guide, London, Dorling Kindersley

  • Honour, Hugh and Fleming, John 2005 A World History of Art (7th edition), London, Laurence King

  • Paglia, Camille (1992) Sexual Personae: Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson, London, Penguin Books

  • Piper, David (2006) The Illustrated History of Art, London, Bounty Books

Class Handouts

Lecture notes and/or discussion questions for each session will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.