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Level 7

7AACM821 The Classical Art of the Body: Greek Sculpture and its Legacy

Credit value40 credits
Module convenor/tutor: Dr Michael Squire
Teaching pattern: 20 x 2-hour classes taught with 6AACAR16 students; 10 x 2-hour seminars every two weeks for MA students only
Availability: Please see module list for relevant year
Assessment: 2 x essay of 5,000 words (50% each)

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

The modules offered in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand: there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary between years.

This module is linked to the Rumble Fund Trip and, as such, is only available to students from the Department of Classics at King's College London. It is not available to intercollegiate students, Study Abroad students or students from any other KCL Department. Please note that the class-component of this module is co-taught with module 6AACAR16 – with additional seminars provided for MA students.

Places on this module will be capped (likely five or six places) and will be allocated in the first instance to those students who are following the MA Classical Art & Archaeology or the MA The Classical World and its Reception degree programmes. (MA students will be allocated to their modules during September 2018.)

The module 7AACM821 The Classical Art of the Body: Greek Sculpture cannot be chosen without participation in the field trip unless this is discussed with the module convenor in advance.


The Classical art of the human body is arguably the most important legacy bequeathed to us by Graeco-Roman antiquity. Not only has it directed the course of western image-making, it has also shaped our collective cultural imaginary – as ideal, antitype, and point of departure. This course provides an introduction to the Greek art of the body in all its many manifestations. It examines a wide range of different materials (including bronze and marble statues in the round, architectural sculpture, figurines, terracottas and reliefs), and across a broad chronological spectrum (focusing above all on the Archaic and Classical materials of the sixth, fifth and fourth centuries). While keeping one eye on historical political, social and cultural contexts, the module also emphasises the importance of reception: if we only strip down our aesthetic investment in the corpus of Graeco-Roman imagery, these materials can shed light on numerous aspects of both ancient and modern thinking.

The first half of the course is structured chronologically, introducing the ‘Greek Revolution’ and the rise of ‘naturalism’. The second term then adopts a series of more thematic approaches in an effort to situate Greek sculpture in its various social, cultural, political, economic and indeed theological contexts. Throughout the course a strong emphasis is placed on first-hand analysis of the studied materials through guided visits to relevant museums and galleries in London and elsewhere; special handling sessions at the British Museum will also be organised for MA students.

The course is designed to complement different MA programmes offered within the department of Classics. Although focusing on archaeological resources, it also makes use of various literary as well as epigraphic sources in the effort to situate the Classical art of the body in its various historical contexts.

The number of MA students on the course is capped (at five to six places). The 2018/19 Rumble field trip and this module are only open to KCL Department of Classics students; they are not available to intercollegiate students, 

Additional costs: Please note that this module incorporate two day trips to museums outside of London. Entrance fees are covered, but students should budget a total of c. £35 to cover their total travel expenses.

In 2018/19, this module will include a fieldtrip to Greece (scheduled for Saturday 8 – Wednesday 12 December 2018): this will be guided by the module leader and others in Athens, and will include access to sites and monuments usually closed to the public. 

The flight on Saturday 8 December departs from Heathrow at 8am, and students will be responsible for getting themselves to the airport by 6:30am at the latest.

All expenses for departmental students will be paid thanks to the generosity of the Department’s Rumble Fund; students are responsible for getting to Heathrow; lunches (and one dinner in Athens) are not covered by the Fund


NB: Students should be aware that the Department currently intends to offer up to 16 places to undergraduate/ Graduate Diploma students registering on 6AACAR16 The Classical Art of the Body, and up to 6 places for MA students taking 7AACM821 The Classical Art of the Body. These students will join the undergraduates on the trip.The 2018/19 Rumble fieldtrip & this module are only open to KCL Department of Classics students; the module is not available to intercollegiate students, Study Abroad students or students from any other KCL Department.

Suggested introductory reading

This is suggested reading and purchase of books is not mandatory.

  • B. Ashmole (1972) Architect and Sculptor in Classical Greece
  • J. Barron (1981) An Introduction to Greek Sculpture
  • J. M. Barringer and J. M. Hurwit (eds.) (2005) Periklean Athens and itsLegacy: Problems and Perspectives
  • M. Beard and J. Henderson (2001) Classical Art: From Greece to Rome
  • J. Berger (1972) Ways of Seeing
  • J. Boardman (1991) Greek Sculpture: The Archaic Period
  • J. Boardman (1985) Greek Sculpture: The Classical Period
  • J. Boardman (1995) Greek Sculpture: The Late Classical Period
  • L. Burn (1991) The British Museum Book of Greek and Roman Art
  • L. Cleland, M. Harlow and L. Llewellyn-Jones (eds.) (2005)The Clothed Body in the Ancient World
  • D. Cairns (ed.) (2006) Body Language in the Greek and Roman Worlds
  • B. F. Cook (1976) Greek and Roman Art in the British Museum
  • J.-P. Cuzin, J.-R. Garborit and A. Pasquier (eds.) (2000) D’après l’antique
  • T. Förgen and M. Lee (eds.) (2009) Bodies and Boundaries in Graeco-Roman Antiquity
  • M. Foucault (1986) The History of Sexuality, three volumes
  • M. Greenhalgh (1978) The Classical Tradition in Art
  • J. B. Grossman (2003) Looking at Greek and Roman Sculpture in Stone: A Guide to Terms, Styles and Techniques
  • C. Hallett (2005) The Roman Nude: Heroic Portrait Statuary 200 BC – AD 300
  • G. M. A. Hanfmann (1967) Classical Sculpture
  • F. Haskell and N. Penny (eds.) (1981) Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500–1900
  • M. Hatt and C. Klonk (2006) Art History: A Critical Introduction to its Methods
  • A. Koloski-Ostrow and C. Lyons (eds.), Naked Truths: Women, Sexuality and Gender in Classical Art and Archaeology
  • I. Jenkins (1992) Archaeologists and Aesthetes in the Sculpture Galleries of the British Museum 1800-1939
  • I. Jenkins (2006) Greek Architecture and its Sculpture
  • I. Jenkins and V. Turner (2009) The Greek Body
  • N. Kaltas (2002) Sculpture in the National Archaeological Museum, Athens
  • T. Laqueur, Making Sex: Body and Gender from the Greeks to Freud
  • D. Montserrat (ed.), Changing Bodies, Changing Meanings. Studies on the Human Body in Antiquity
  • R. Neer (2010) The Emergenceof the Classical Style in Greek Sculpture
  • R. Neer (2011) Greek Art and Archaeology
  • R. Osborne (1998) Archaic and Classical Greek Art
  • R. Osborne (2011) The History Written on the Ancient Greek Body
  • J. Overbeck (1886) Die antiken Schriftquellen zur Geschichte der bildenden Künste bei den Griechen
  • O. Palagia (ed.) (2006) Greek Sculpture: Function, Materials and Techniques in the Archaic and Classical Periods
  • J.J. Pollitt (1972) Art and Experience in Classical Greece
  • J.J. Pollitt (1990) The Art of Ancient Greece: Sources and Documents
  • J. Porter (ed.), Constructions of the Classical Body (Ann Arbor, 1999);
  • F. Prost and J. Wilgaux (eds.) (2006) Penser et représenter le corps dans l’Antiquité
  • A. Richlin (1997) ‘Towards a history of body history’, in M. Golden and P. Toohey (eds.), Inventing Ancient Culture: Historicism, Periodization, and the Ancient World, pp. 16–35
  • R. Rowland (1963) The Classical Tradition in Western Art
  • B.S. Ridgway (1970)The Severe Style in Greek Sculpture
  • B.S. Ridgway (1981) Fifth-Century Styles in Greek Sculpture
  • B.S. Ridgway (1984) Roman Copies of Greek Sculpture
  • B.S. Ridgway (1993) The Archaic Style in Greek Sculpture, second edition
  • B.S. Ridgway (1997) Fourth-Century Styles in Greek Sculpture
  • B.S. Ridgway (1997) Hellenistic Sculpture I
  • M. Robertson (1975) A History of Greek Art
  • C. Rolley (1999) La sculpturegrecque
  • B.A. Sparkes (2011) Greek Art, second edition
  • L. Schneider (2009) ‘Ideal Der Körper als Kunst: “Griechische” Körperinszenierungen von Winckelmann bis zum 20. Jahrhundert’, in M. Schierbaum and G. Lohse (eds.), Antike als Inszenierung, 71–128
  • N. Spivey (1996) Understanding Greek Sculpture: Ancient Meanings, Modern Readings
  • N. Spivey and M. Squire (2008) Panorama of the Classical World, second edition
  • M. Squire (2011) The Art of the Body: Antiquity and its Legacy
  • M. Stansbury-O’Donnell (2011) Looking at Greek Art
  • A. Stewart (1990) Greek Sculpture, two volumes
  • A. Stewart (1997) Art, Desire and the Body in Ancient Greece
  • A. Stewart (2008) Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art
  • C. C. Vermeule (1964) European Art and the Classical Past
  • J. Whitley (2001) The Archaeology of Ancient Greece
  • D. Williams (2009) British Museum Masterpieces: Classical Art
  • M. Wyke (ed.) (1998) Gender and the Body in the Ancient Mediterranean
  • M. Wyke, ‘Herculean Muscle! The Classicizing rhetoric of bodybuilding’, Arion4.3 (1996): 51–79
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