Fall 2014 - Graduate Course Description
Gu, Ming
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6315 Section 001
T Time 4:00 PM - 6:45 PM
Course Title
Visual Culture

Description of Course:

This course focuses on the conceptual and critical aspects of visual culture and aims to offer an introduction to the study of visualities and their basic ideas and principles. Because of this focus, this course should be more appropriately titled “visual culture theory,” or “critical visuality studies.” In this course, we will read theoretical works on visualities and visualizations of the social spheres, and learn critical methodologies for analysing and interpreting the increasing visualisation of contemporary culture. The course addresses these central questions: When the "pictorial turn" supplants the "linguistic turn" in the study of culture, what is the interplay between the visible and the readable across disciplines and cultures? As the power of the visual is becoming increasingly greater than ever before, how should we as text-based scholars adapt to the enormous changes brought about by the visual turn and emerging media? In what ways can we benefit from the turn from textual art to visual art to the mass media? In seeking answers to these questions, we hope to lay a conceptual grounding and develop critical skills for observing, analysing, describing, and critiquing the interconnections between the textual and the visual from a range of diverse theoretical perspectives. No prior knowledge of visual culture is required.

Required Texts:

Required Texts:
1) Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford University Press, 2009).
2) Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Visual Culture Reader (Routledge; 2nd edition, 2002).
3) W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (University of Chicago Press, 1994).
4) Some handouts and visual materials.

Recommended Texts:
W. J. T. Mitchell, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (University of Chicago Press, 1987).
W. J. T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

All students are required to attend class regularly, actively participate in classroom discussions, hand in summaries/reviews of assigned reading, give presentations on assigned materials, and write a final paper. The term paper may focus on an area of visuality studies, a leading scholar’s work, or the application of chosen approaches to his or her own field of interest. Midway through the course, each student needs to turn in a proposal for the final paper (1-2 pages) outlining the initial ideas, approaches and research materials for the final paper. The grading is based on the following:

1. Summaries/Reviews 10%
2. Presentations 10%
3. Preliminary proposal at midterm 10%
4. Attendance and Participation in discussion 10%
5. Term paper (15-20 pages) 60%
Total: 100%

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