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What is Visual Studies?

Visual Studies draws from a number of disciplines to explore the meanings, practices, and processes of looking and imaging across historical periods and diverse cultures. Visual Studies is inclusive and broad-ranging both in its methods and approaches and in its objects of inquiry, which include digital technologies, photography, film, painting, exhibition histories, television, performance, sculpture, video, sound, the built environment, and popular culture. 

UCI offers one of the premier graduate programs in visual studies, with core faculty from the departments of Art History and Film & Media Studies. In addition to our strengths in these areas, faculty research and teaching engage aesthetic theory, intellectual history and historiography, cultural studies, critical race theory, global studies and postcolonial theory, feminist and queer studies, history and policy, critical theory, digital technologies, and critical science studies.

Visual Studies students often work with additional faculty throughout UCI’s School of Humanities and School of the Arts. In particular, many choose to supplement their Visual Studies degrees with graduate certificates in Critical Theory, Feminist Studies, Asian American Studies, and Chicano/Latino Studies. UC Irvine is home to the University of California’s Humanities Research Institute, which sponsors important lectures and conferences, encouraging dialogue among the disciplines and throughout the academy.

Faculty Publications