Crispin Thurlow Faber
B CUSP 117
Examines an important social issue such as ecology, art, political change, the power of media, educational reform, or the role of science in contemporary culture through interdisciplinary investigation and the lens of the visual, literary, and performing arts. Offered: W.
IMAGE POWER: INVESTIGATING VISUAL CULTURE (WINTER 2014)
"… we are entering a historical epoch in which the image will take over from the written word." (Ernst Gombrich, 1972)
This class is all about “ways of seeing" – literally and metaphorically. We’ll be exploring different ways of looking at (and making sense of) the everyday world of images, design and visual culture. We’ll be learning to see this world in a new light by looking at it more carefully and from different angles. In particular, we’ll be learning to understand contemporary visual culture by viewing it through different scholarly perspectives (e.g. semiotics, visual rhetoric, cultural studies). We will also examine a series of different everyday sites of visual production (e.g. advertising, fashion, fine art) as well as a number of different modes of visual communication (e.g. typography, color, space). A critical understanding of visual culture enables us to make sense of the role of images and design in our everyday lives. We are better able to see beyond the image – to recognize that there is always more than meets the eye. For many of us, knowing how visual communication works also enables us to do it better ourselves. This is why advertising execs, public relations officers, political campaigners, charity and social justice organizers are often required to take classes like this one. They know that these days the people who control the symbols are often the people with influence. It’s all about image power.
Student learning goals
have a basic understanding of some of the major academic approaches to theorizing visual culture in different academic fields.
be able to make connections between these theoretical perspectives and a range of "real world" applications and contexts.
understand how scholars from different academic traditions use particular methods for analyzing different aspects of visual culture.
be able to apply a number of these visual research methods to areas of your own life.
know about the main communication resources at the heart of visual culture.
know about some of the major sites of contemporary visual production and "professional" practice.
General method of instruction
This class will be made up of the usual range of university-level work: lectures (presented mostly online), a modest amount of scholarly reading, viewing documentary films, in-class activities and discussion, and short weekly projects. The lecture content and reading will be done outside of our face-to-face class time; the projects will be started in class time and then carried independently; our face-to-face time together will be spent unpacking the lecture content, discussing the readings, reviewing projects and working on your visual essays.
The only preparation you will need to do for this class is to complete one short reading BEFORE the first day. This reading will be emailed to you before the start of the quarter. You will also be asked to bring with you a magazine advertisement that you really like.
Class assignments and grading
The main types of work that you will be doing are: a visual essay, a theory test (end of quarter), small weekly projects, quizzes based on required readings, and some short reviews of documentaries we'll be watching in class.
Your learning and effort in this class will be assessed with a mixture of credit/no credit work (e.g. visual essay, weekly projects and film review) and scored work (e.g. theory test and reading quizzes).