Strategic​​ Anomalies:​​ Art ​​&​​ Language ​​in the ​​Art​​ School​​ 1969-1979

  • Mark Dennis

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis looks at the interventions of Art & Language into the art schools of England and Wales, from the proposal of the Art Theory Programme in 1969, through to the publication of The Politics of Art Education by Paul Wood and David Rushton in 1979. Between these two events a series of associated projects, cadres and agitations operated both as an alternative curriculum and a critical thorn in the side of various colleges of art. These events are set within the context of the Coldstream/Summerson Reforms, the arguments around polytechnics and the changing political, curricular and theoretical context of the art school during the 1970s, in addition to the wider political context of post-war Britain. t focuses on how the early formation of Art & Language, as editors of the journal Art-Language, attempted to produce a theoretically informed programme of learning around group discussion, extensive reading, essays, projects and presentations in order to instantiate a fuller, more directed curriculum for those on a Fine Art Dip.A.D., for which the new open curriculum was seen as severely lacking. It proposes that this initial effort, after various oppositions, obstacles and failures, necessarily developed into a strategy to disrupt, collectivise and incite protest among art students; a strategy which was played out by Art & Language once removed through the SUPPORT SCHOOL project of the 1970s. With this history in mind I consider the conditions of fine art higher education in terms of the cultural inheritance of the art school, broad structural change in the institution of fine art higher education, the life-world of the art student and the development of art pedagogy in the 1970s. I then go on to consider how the problems articulated by the interventions of A&L are still ongoing and developing, situating them within the discourse around 21st Century art education in Britain.
Date of Award2016
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Coventry University

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