Visual Studies Minor

Visual studies, sometimes also known as visual culture studies, seeks to understand the many ways that we see, and are made to see, the world, and the role that visual images play. While such imagery includes works of art, it also encompasses the imagery of movies, plays, advertisements, scientific illustrations, political posters, fashion, pornography, comics, graphic novels, WebPages, YouTube and many other areas of visual culture.

Students of visual studies analyze how the design of images (that is, their use of formal elements such as line, shape, value, texture and color), the combinations of text and image, how the media disseminates them, their sequential arrangements (in the case of narrative imagery), their choice of foci, affects our interpretation of them.

Understanding iconography--that is, the set of symbolic meanings that we attach to images-- is also important as this frequently reflects socio-political dynamics, religious beliefs, gender norms, ideals of morality etc. The latter point relates to the very important question that students of visual studies ask: For whom was the image made and why? That is, when someone makes an image they invariably do so, either consciously or not, with assumptions about the social, gender or cultural identity of the viewer. This vital point unites the study of visual imagery in art, theatre and movie history, and in the fields of psychology and anthropology.

Minor Requirements (16 credits):

The minor must include courses drawn from the social sciences and the arts and humanities, but students may take it as an Humanities & Fine Arts PEAK or a Social Science & History PEAK, depending on the relative weighting of the courses chosen.

Humanities & Fine Arts PEAK

Social Science & History PEAK

*ART-494 / MUS-494 / THE-494 to be undertaken at the conclusion of the student's coursework for the minor. It is to consist of an exemplary paper/project produced for a course making up the minor, a self-assessment of that paper, and an essay that pulls together the common threads linking all the courses taken, reflecting on the insights generated during the completion of the minor. While it is an account of the student's personal intellectual and emotional growth, it must conform to the accepted standards of academic writing. The essay should be submitted to the designated Visual Studies Minor advisor who will assign the grade. In the event that some of the material is outside the expertise of the advisor, he or she may consult colleagues who teach courses fulfilling the visual studies requirement.