First Year Graduate Seminar
Historical and Theoretical Analysis of Art and Visual Culture
This course takes two approaches to exploring modern historical and theoretical analysis of art and visual culture. It examines several key art historical texts in which issues central to the discipline are discussed in depth and deployed in detailed critical analysis of actual artifacts and images. It also discusses theoretical and critical texts from outside the discipline that have had a major impact on it. These include studies on Marxist theories of the commodity and labor, aesthetic theory, psychoanalytic theory and semiotics or theories of the sign. The course's main themes are - the nature of visual representation and depiction; ways of viewing of works of art and visual artifacts; the relationship between visual representations and figurations and a culture's ways of thinking about and understanding the world, as well as its everyday material practices; artistic tradition and convention; the political and ideological dimensions of art and visual culture; and the gendering of artistic practice and representation. Cross-cultural awareness is developed by considering the distinctive priorities governing the study of different artistic traditions, Western and non-Western. The course aims to develop broader understandings of the nature, power and functions of visual imaging.