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Course Information

Instructor Info:Lorne Falk
Office Extension x6084
TA Info:Susie Svendsgaard
Term: 2012F
Meeting Info: Monday
02:30 PM - 05:20 PM Franklin Patterson Hall (FPH) 106

Images dominate our cultural imaginations with such intensity some cultural theorists describe their affect in pathological terms: "the hypertrophy of visual stimulation" (Martin Jay), "a topographical amnesia" (Paul Virilio), "excremental culture" (Arthur and Mary Louise Kroker), "our narcotic modernity" (Avital Ronell). Other critics say the explosion of visual culture is so influential that it represents a paradigm shift-that is, a shift from the domination of language to the domination of images over our lives. This course will examine the theoretical, social and cultural issues and contexts influencing the formation of visual culture, by dissecting specific examples from contemporary photography, film, new media and other visual media that problematize visuality. The implications of new models of spectatorship and visual literacy will also be considered.

Course Objectives:

Students in this course are expected to work with one another to create a lively, serious, ongoing conversation about the interdisciplinarity of contemporary art. Working together in various ways is a key to developing (your) critical, research, verbal and collegial skills. There are two papers and each student will serve as respondent for another student's mid-term and final paper. In teams you will present and lead discussions about assigned readings and individually you will present an artist relevant to the readings. Summaries of these presentations, along with relevant websites and images are to be uploaded to the course website as a bank of shared information and ideas. You are expected to engage issues of form and subject matter, political and historical contexts, social relevance and critical reception of art works, issues, and cultural theories of the contemporary moment relevant to a discourse about art and art history since 1950.

Evaluation Criteria:

Attendance: Attendance of each class is required. If you must miss a class due to illness, please email me in advance. If you miss more than 2 classes, you will be asked to withdraw.

Preparation: Complete the readings and be prepared to discuss them in class. Your level of preparation is evident and will be factored into your final evaluation.

Participation I: Each class will be devoted to group discussion of the assigned texts. Students in teams will take a turn presenting and leading the discussion of each week's assigned readings. Each presentation should be 20-30 minutes in length. It is required that each team meet prior to their presentation to discuss the readings and prepare a handout, which should include a single paragraph summary of each reading followed by specifically cited passages and/or questions that articulate what you consider to be the key points and that link it to the other readings—not more than 1-page per reading.

Participation II: Every student will make a presentation of work by an artist mentioned in or relevant to the readings. You are expected to engage in serious, scholarly, college-level research in your presentation, which should be 15-20 minutes in length. Presentations should include: a concise biographical sketch of the artist, a selection of (10-20) images of work taken from different periods in their career, and a rigorous analysis of a single work of art that engages with one of the subjects, issues, or themes of the class. While a handout is not required, your presentation is to be uploaded to the course website.

Image and Art Historical Research: All presentations, with relevant websites and images are to be uploaded to the course website as a bank of shared information and ideas. Students may draw on this bank for their papers.

Essays: You must submit two essays. Each essay should be typed in Times New Roman (12 point), have a title page that includes the prompt, have proper footnotes (Chicago style), and be paginated (e.g. JDoe – 1). The mid-term paper should be 5 pages long and the final paper 10 pages, not including title page and images. I will distribute paper topics corresponding to the due dates (mid-term and end of term)—your essays must be on either my topics or a topic of your own design that I have approved.

Important: All essays must be emailed to me by their respective deadlines. Also submit a hardcopy to my office (JLC101) if you want handwritten feedback, in addition to an evaluation on each paper.

Important: I will have a folder of presentations, assignments and essays for each of you on my laptop—you don't have to submit a paper portfolio at the end of the class.

Additional Info:

Required Texts

Available from Amherst Books

Evans, Jessica and Stuart Hall, eds. Visual Culture: The Reader. London: Sage Publications, 2009.

Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, 2nd edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

All other readings are available as .pdf files on the Moodle course web site.