spring 2021
KVI-2020 Art in the Contact Zone: European Images and Imaginings of the “New World”, 1492-1914. - 10 ECTS

Application deadline

Applicants from Nordic countries: 1 June for the autumn semester and 1 December for the spring semester. Exchange students and Fulbright students: 1 October for the spring semester and 15 April for the autumn semester.

Type of course

It may be taken as a single course. The course (or a similar course) is a compulsory component of the Art History bachelor’s degree.

Admission requirements

Higher Education Entrance Qualification (generell studiekompetanse) or prior learning and work experience (realkompetanse).

Application code: 9199 - Enkeltemner (ikke realfag), lavere grad (Nordic applicants).

Course content

This course provides in-depth knowledge in European art and visual culture concerned with the so-called "New World" in the period 1492 to 1914, from Columbus’s "discovery" of America until the outbreak of the First World War. The New World is here defined as the Americas, the Arctic and Oceania (Australia and islands in the Pacific). Other areas may also become relevant for investigation because of the global ties forged by European imperialism between the "Old" world and the "New". A case in point is Africa and the Transatlantic Slavery.

The course discusses different types of media, from painting and sculpture to photography, amateur sketches and illustrations, based on imaginary and real meetings with non-European people, cultures and landscapes. Central to our analysis of this material is an understanding of art and visual culture as social constructions. Applying postcolonial theory and terminology, the course investigates the social, political, religious and aesthetic motives and motivations behind individual works, as well as the direct influence of meetings with humans, cultures and nature in the "New World".

Recommended prerequisites

KVI-1010 Epoch and Style, KVI-1014 Visual Analysis, KVI-1015 Theory and Method, KVI-1113 From Campus to the Capitol: art historical fieldwork

Objectives of the course

After completing the course, students will have the following:

Knowledge about:

  • select European artists, works and genres in the period 1492-1914 relevant to the parallel history of colonialism in the "New World".
  • the ideological, cultural and political contexts of art and visual culture.
  • connections between European colonialism and the visual representation of humans, cultures, and nature in the "New World".
  • connections between the transatlantic slavery and the representation of Africans and people with African heritage in art and visual culture.


After completing the course, students will be able to:

  • Communicate in writing and orally about art and visual culture.
  • Work independently with research questions and debate art historical problems.
  • Explain aspects of postcolonial theory and terminology and apply this to analyses of relevant works of art and visual culture.
  • Analyze, problematize and discuss European art and visual culture concerned with the "New World".

Language of instruction and examination

Language of instruction and examination is English. However, students may submit their exam paper in English, Norwegian or other Scandinavian languages. 

Teaching methods

Teaching methods comprise lectures, seminars and group work. In addition, field work to view art in situ, and a possible excursion to London.

All courses will be evaluated once during the period of the study program. The board of the program decides which courses will be evaluated by students and teacher each year. 


The following coursework requirements must be completed and approved in order to take the final exam:

  • Two approved oral presentations.

The exam will consist of:

A take-home exam with students writing a six-page essay over the course of six days (1.5 line spacing, 12 font size).

The exam will be assessed on an A-F grades scale. Grades are A-E for passed and F for failed. The exam will be assessed on a Pass/Fail basis.

Retake is offered in in the beginning of the following semester in cases of grade F or Fail. Deferred examination is offered in the beginning of the following semester if the student is unable to take the final exam due to illness or other exceptional circumstances. Registration deadline for retake is January 15 for autumn semester exams and August 15 for spring semester exams. 

  • About the course
  • Campus: Tromsø |
  • ECTS: 10
  • Course code: KVI-2020
  • Earlier years and semesters for this topic