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News archive 2010

New MA in Christianity & The Arts

23 Jun 2010

A new MA in Christianity & The Arts was launched last night by Professor Rick Trainor, Principal of King’s and Dr Nicholas Penny, Director of the National Gallery. The product of collaboration between one of the country’s most distinguished departments of Theology & Religious Studies and a world-class art gallery, the MA is the first of its kind.

Uniquely, the programme will enable students to work across disciplinary and specialism boundaries, and in particular to explore simultaneously the art-historical, church-historical and theological dimensions of Christian art – approaches which are generally pursued in isolation from one another.

This programme will give students a stimulating and privileged understanding of one of London’s - and the world’s - greatest treasuries of art, and help them to think theologically about other strands of the arts too. There will be two modules available that examine literature, as well as opportunities to take modules from elsewhere in the School of Arts & Humanities in order to explore musical, dramatic and cinematic traditions (all of them media in which Christian ideas have found expression).

The National Gallery collection will be at the heart of what students encounter in the MA, and much of the teaching will be provided on the Gallery floor. There will be significant teaching input from curatorial staff at the Gallery. The online collection and the National Gallery’s distinguished body of catalogue material will also be available to students.

Phenomenal resource of London’s artistic heritage

The MA will be co-ordinated by Ben Quash, King’s College London’s first Professor of Christianity and the Arts. In creating this new degree, and Professor Quash’s Chair, King’s has identified a rapidly developing sphere of theological interest. Energetic research work is growing in the subject, as is its attractiveness to students from many backgrounds.

Professor Quash comments: 'There are rich Catholic and Orthodox traditions of visual imagery that are alive and well today, and it is a much remarked-on phenomenon that the traditional Protestant churches have in recent years abandoned their traditional distrust of images and begun to embrace the possibilities of visual culture. Many departments of Theology & Religious Studies seek to study these ancient traditions and new developments. What few of them have, however, is the phenomenal resource of London’s artistic heritage on their doorstep.'

The National Gallery is one of the greatest art collections in the world, spanning five centuries of Western European painting, including many masterpieces. A large proportion of its paintings treat specifically Christian themes and subject matter. This MA is designed to encourage theological reflection on these great works of visual culture.

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