Fall 2012 - Graduate Course Descriptions

Gu, Ming
Discipline and Number
HUSL 6315 Section 001
R Time 1:00 PM - 3:45 PM
Course Title
Visual Culture

Description of Course:

"Visual culture" has traditionally been viewed as covering the "fine" arts and the more "popular" visual forms such as film, TV, video, advertising, comics, digital and new media art. In critical terms, however, visual culture is the study of the social construction of the visual field and the visual construction of society. 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 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 and the mass media? In seeking answers to these questions, we hope to 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:

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking. An Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford University Press, 2009).

Nicholas Mirzoeff, The Visual Culture Reader (Routledge; 2 edition,2002).

W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory: Essays on Verbal and Visual Representation (University Of Chicago Press, 1994).

Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:

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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