Visual Politics

Term: Fall 2009

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 6415

The seminar introduces students to key debates over visual culture and politics, exploring the visual as a site of power and reconfiguration, order and change. Scholars have argued for decades that appearances of order and coherence are themselves ruses of power masking the heterogeneity that persists within all social formations. We explore the role of the visual in creating the appearance of order, coherence, and affinity as well as the visual as a site of change and social transformation. The syllabus is divided into three larger thematic sections: The first considers the visual as a site of power and powerlessness. The second turns to the invisible and unseen. The third explores processes of change and social transformation. Specific topics include the gaze, the spectacle, the invisible, the implicit, the avant-garde, resistance, and reconfiguration. Readings are drawn from across the social sciences and humanities. Students are required to connect the reading to a wide range of visual material. Throughout we consider how foregrounding the visual prompts us to rethink existing accounts of power and change.

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