Understanding Visual Media

Course Description:

This course introduces aesthetic and critical concepts for understanding and analyzing photography, film and other visual media. It establishes the formal vocabulary for discussing and looking critically at visual media and some of the most important ways in which the power of and meanings we make have been theorized in related to larger cultural, social, economic, and technological contexts.

Texts (Selected Readings From):

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

There are additionally several articles and book excerpts required. These supplementary readings will be available electronically. You will also be asked to read articles from magazines, academic journals and newspapers as part of your own research.

Course Expectations

Attendance and participation are required. Each unexcused absence affects your grade directly (deducted points) and indirectly (missed screenings, lectures, discussion).

Participation can be verbal, in class, and/or written, on electronic discussion boards.

Film screenings are subject to change. If you miss a screening, you are required to see the film(s) missed on your own. Most are on reserve at Morris Library. Come prepared to take notes during screenings, as well as discussions.

Reading is required by the date indicated.

Response papers. These incorporate concepts from the supplementary readings and media content introduced in class. The response paper should demonstrate that you have done the reading, understood it, and applied its concepts to course content. A couple double-spaced pages (about 500 words) should be adequate. Make sure you use language and concepts from the reading. The response papers are due, electronically, 24 hours prior to the class meeting at which they will be discussed.

Quiz questions will be multiple choice, short answer, or fill-in-the-blank. The questions will pertain to reading, lectures, discussion, and media shown in class. No make-ups will be given unless arranged in advance due to a conflict or unless an emergency can be proven.

The final paper will be an 8-10 page paper that involves some research and some original analysis and criticism. Details of the assignment will be distributed by mid-term and topics will be decided in consultation with instructors. (Note: supplementary readings cease at mid-term, with the expectation that you will be reading specialized literature relating to your paper topic).

Value of different course components:

10 points –  Attendance

15 points-       Anaylsis

15 points –   Midterm Quiz

15 points –  Paper topic proposal (description)

5 points –  Participation

30 points –   6 responses @ 5 points each

25 points –   Final Paper

15 points –   Final Quiz


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