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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Crispin Thurlow Faber
COM 495
Seattle Campus

Special Topics in Communication

Lecture, seminar, and/or team study. Topics vary.

Class description

VISUAL COMMUNICATION.

Note: This class will meet on Mondays only between 11:30am and 3:20pm in Communications Building (Seattle campus) room 302. Please write to Professor Thurlow to request an add code, explaining how this course relates to your program of study.

This 5-credit “special topics” 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, image-making, 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 visual culture by viewing it through different visual theories/methods (e.g. semiotics, visual rhetoric, cultural studies, visual anthropology, film studies). We will also examine a series of different "real world" sites of visual production (e.g. advertising, fashion, fine art, cinema) as well as a number of different visual modes (e.g. typography, photography, colour, space).

Student learning goals

You will have a basic understanding of some of the major academic approaches to theorizing visual culture in different academic fields.

You will be able to make connections between these theoretical perspectives and a range of "real world" applications and contexts.

You will also understand how scholars from different academic traditions use particular methods for analyzing different aspects of visual culture.

You will be able to apply a number of these visual research methods to areas of your own life.

You will know about the main communicative resources (or semiotic modes) at the heart of visual culture.

You will know about some of the major sites of contemporary visual production and "professional" practice.

General method of instruction

This lab-based seminar combines a mixture of lecture presentations, academic reading, classroom discussion, and hands-on project work. Each week, we will also be watching a documentary film related to the main topical focus for the week (e.g. typography, fashion, colour, branding). It is also possible that a series of "visual professionals" will be invited into class to share their expertise with us.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this class. Nor do you need to have any special design skills. This course is cross-listed as BISMCS 471 Advanced Topics in Media and Communication Studies.

Class assignments and grading

Assessed coursework will comprise three main activities each week: reading quizzes based on primary academic texts (graded); small independent research projects applying key ideas from class (credit/no credit); and a final exam (also graded) based on lectures and key theory/method readings.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Additional Information
Last Update by Crispin Thurlow Faber
Date: 01/31/2011