Power and Visuality
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Division: University-wide Programs
Department: University Lecture Program
Course Number: ULEC 2730
Course Format: Lecture
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
- Art History, Theory & Criticism
- Media & Culture
The history of visual representations (from art to the broader terrain of visual culture) reveals that there is an intimate relationship between the visual field and structures of and ideas about power. This course explores these connections, by examining the relationship between art, power, and visual culture from the birth of modernism and modernity in the nineteenth century to the global, digital era. Through this framework, the question of the politics of art, or how visual representations are “political” will be addressed. We will examine the birth of modernity in the nineteenth century, marked by the invention of new technologies, the onslaught of industrialization, and the spread of Imperialism, which shaped relations between the West and different nations and cultures until the post-colonial era. How did visual practices reveal social and economic relations, and/or actively shape cultural attitudes? Through case studies, will trace these issues into the period of the two World Wars, in which visual modes (from artworks to architecture and film) were marshaled to celebrate state power, to challenge its hold, or to generate a new political order. In the postwar era, we will examine the expansion of the media landscape, the invention of new technologies, and the emergence of revolutionary politics, and then finally, the advent of globalization after the fall of the Berlin Wall, asking again how visual practices responded to these conditions and sought to intervene into dominant structures of power. Throughout, we will ask not only how visual representations underwent a change, but how we, as visual and perceptual subjects simultaneously have undergone a radical transformation, with the ultimate question of what does it mean to “see” and how do we see?
Course Open to: Majors Only
Students must register for both the lecture and discussion section of this course.
Open to Undergraduate students.