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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Art History (ART H)

ART H 105 (GA) Pictures and Power (3) An introduction to strategies for analyzing the political effects, uses and interpretation of popular imagery.

ART H 105 Pictures and Power (3)

In an era in which information is increasingly visual, and in an age in which our environment is ever more packed with imagery, students need powerful tools with which to interpret, compare, use and challenge images. Art History as a discipline, with its rigorous and ever more diverse arsenal of analytical strategies for interrogating images, provides students an excellent opportunity to think critically about the pictures that surround them every day.

This class is therefore about the ways in which popular imagery pleases, informs, persuades, and otherwise exerts power. More important, this class will equip students with interpretive techniques by which they can examine and critique the power worked by pictures. The class will conduct analytical explorations of contemporary popular imagery and the influence they exert in daily life, from selfies to magic eye posters, fashion spreads to anatomical models, corporate logos to product labels. At the same time, the course will ground these explorations within historical contexts, examining the ways in which these visual cultures have come into being over time; students may learn how, for example, current political campaign imagery inherits codes of visual presentation first developed in ancient Roman portrait sculpture. The class will also acquaint students with works of art that have informed, attempted to draw upon or even contested the power of popular imagery. Particular emphasis will be placed on the interrelatedness of imagery; just as religious paintings of the Renaissance often exerted their force their meaning by virtue of their companionship with architectural sites, music and ritual practices, contemporary popular imagery (from newspaper journalism to family albums) depends upon the larger constellation of events and artifacts in which they are nestled.

General Education: GA
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Spring 2015

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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