Visual Studies Courses


Fall Quarter

Dept Course No and Title Instructor
This course examines the theory and methods of Art History, with an emphasis on methods. We will consider the ways in which the discipline has changed (or possibly remained the same?) over the past century, but our primary task is to understand how historians have viewed, investigated, and explained the art work, and the methods they have used to do so.  Through the careful, analytical, and critical examination of selected readings we will investigate an array of strategies for approaching the work of art, and weigh our own options as historians and interpreters of the visual image.
This course examines theories of Black visibility through visual cultural forms and media. Taking theoretical and visual texts as contested sites of life and death, we will analyze frameworks for understanding the meanings, ideologies, and representations of Black people in American culture. In other words, how do sites of Blackness serve dual functions of domination and resistance, Negrophobia and Negrophilia, and pleasure and pain? How have identity formations, presentations, and appropriations of Blackness produced hegemonic structures and performed identities? How have Black artists redefined visual texts to produce new knowledge about themselves, America, and the world?
An historically contextualized overview of the major theories and filmmaker-theoreticians that have informed Latin American and Latinx Film and Media Studies from the early sound era to the present.  This course will not be organized according to a linear chronology; rather, we will focus on a series of production models and aesthetic and political debates that have informed Latin American and Latinx film and media practice since the mid-twentieth century. Topics include the stakes placed on "the national" in relation to the transition to sound and narrative content, realist aesthetics (specifically an intense relationship developing with Italian (neo) realism in the post-World War II period an beyond), the assignation of Latin American cinema as "third cinema," the emergence of testimonio as a preferred mode of narration, feminist interventions in commercial as well as popular practice, and
the figuration of the "popular" in products of the culture industries, taking the considerable influence of television in globalized Latin American culture into account. Progressively, attention will be paid to points of intersection between Latin American and U.S. Latinx theory and practice and to spectator-text dynamics.   The work of Vinicius de Moraes, Glauber Rocha, Fernando Birri, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino, Raul Ruiz, Julio García Espinosa, Jorge Sanjines, Jesús Martín
Barbero, Nestor García Canclini, Ismail Xavier, Lúcia Nagib, Esther Hamburger, Rosa Linda Fregoso, and Charles Ramírez Berg will be examined. Readings will be accompanied by the screening of relevant film, video, and television productions.  Although certainly not required, students will be strongly encouraged to work with texts in Spanish and/or Portuguese.
This course offers an intensive survey of canonical and current queer studies texts, examining the major questions, debates, and methods of the interdisciplinary field. In the spirit of queer politics and queer theory, queerness in this class operates not simply as a synonym for GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) people but rather as a mode of questioning and opposing dominant and normative ideological values and aesthetic forms. In other words, we will explore how the media have been harnessed to express alternative conceptions of life, politics, and sexuality, but also have how media have also shaped discourses. The goal of the course is to radically engage with ideas, questioning, and critical thinking—more so than getting the "right" answer. Some of the readings are "foundational" and some may seem "dated" but will help us to understand the urgency of theory within its historical context. But in each instance, the course will attempt challenge binary identity categories or reductive singular explanations.  The course, if it works, which challenge students to challenge and question their own knowledge and assumptions—as much as to affirm them. In addition to reading a number of theoretical essays and chapters, students will be asked to conduct primary archival research for their final project, which will ask students to bring the theoretical frameworks to bear in an analysis of a historical object or text.