Introduction to Visual Culture
Visual Culture has emerged as a study field in its own right in the late 1970s, in the midst of a crisis in academic research and the collapse of Modernist distinctions and hierarchies. Moreover, images of all kind – from painting, photography and film to virtual reality – were becoming part and parcel of the everyday, and technological developments were facilitating the design of instruments enhancing man's visual capacity and simplifying the production and consumption of images. The need to understand the meaning of images and their effect on the individual and on society at large lies at the heart of this area of research. In this course we will study key texts written by prominent thinkers such as Marx, Freud and Foucault, whose views and notions have contributed significantly to the understanding of fundamental processes in visual culture. With their help we will forge the analytical means and concepts that can provide contemporary producers and consumers of images with a critical view. We will discuss, among other matters, issues of surveillance and control, spectacle and consumerism, psychoanalysis and gender relations, post-colonialism and globalization.