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Contemporary Visual Culture and the Politics of Images

Semester and Year SP 2019
Course Number IDSEM-UG1775
Section 001
Instructor Lauren Walsh
Days T
Time 2:00 PM - 4:45 PM
Units 4
Level U
Requirement   HUM



In this course students learn to think about the reading and writing practices of contemporary visual culture. What does it mean to “read” an image? How are images used politically? Is what is “un-seen” as important as what is seen? Students tackle philosophical, ethical, and political questions, and are encouraged to pursue topics of individual interest for assigned papers and projects. We will ground our discussions in relevant theory and debates and will explore multiple visual genres, including the graphic novel form, film, ads, and photography. In examining the politics of visual images, this course places special, extended emphasis on images in the context of war and humanitarian crises. Throughout, we will think about our own roles in contemporary visual culture; we are consumers, participators, and creators of imagery. What does this mean for us when considered through, for example, an ethical or aesthetic or humanitarian lens? Critical literature by Susan Sontag, Susie Linfield, Scott McCloud, and/or Shahidul Alam, among others, will inform our discussions and deepen student writing. Our syllabus also incorporates journalistic accounts and conflict photography, and may include work by documentary filmmaker Errol Morris. Students will write reaction papers, longer essays, and have the option of a visual project.


All Syllabi

Course Type

Interdisciplinary Seminars (IDSEM-UG)