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Unit information: Theories of Visual Culture: Text and Image in 2014/15

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Unit name Theories of Visual Culture: Text and Image
Unit code MODLM2048
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Harrow
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Modern Languages
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit introduces students to competing and complementary theories of Visual Culture and Text: these are studied in the context of a 'longer view' of the modern tradition of literary criticism and art history, and word/image studies. Students will explore the encounter between visual/textual culture and modern theories of visuality informed by gender studies, postcolonial thought, film studies, performance studies, new historicism, poststructuralism, reception theory and psychoanalysis. This unit is a core unit for students following the Visual Cultures: Text and Image pathway of the MA Modern Languages, and is available as an option to other students on this and other MAs in the School of Modern Languages and Faculty of Arts.

Intended Learning Outcomes

  1. Knowledge and understanding of major strands of European thought, literature, history and culture
  2. Knowledge and understanding of the commonalities and diversity of European culture, broadly defined
  3. Students will be able to interpret and evaluate literary and other works and cultural/historical/intellectual trends
  4. Students will be able to synthesise information from a variety of sources, evaluate competing interpretations and make reasoned academic judgements
  5. Students will be able to compare the textual and other cultural products of different cultures, making fresh and imaginative connections between disparate material Students will be able to critically survey, analyse and interpret complex texts
  6. Students will be able to communicate effectively and present a cogent and comprehensive argument, both orally and in writing
  7. Students will be able to make appropriate use of information technology for research and presentation of work
  8. Students will be able to undertake research using appropriate source materials
  9. Students will be able to work independently and to deadlines, to an exacting scholarly level.

Teaching Information

2 hour weekly seminar

Assessment Information

1 x 5000 word essay

Reading and References

Recommended Introductory Reading:

  • Bal Mieke, A Mieke Bal Reader, University of Chicago Press, 2006
  • Berger, John, Ways of Seeing, 1972
  • Baudrillard, Jean, Simulacra and Simulation, trans. by S. Faria Glaser, Michigan UP, 1994
  • Bryson, Norman, Vision and Painting; The Logic of the Gaze, Yale UP, 1983
  • Elkins, J, On Pictures and the Words that Fail Them, Cambridge UP, 1998
  • Gombrich, Ernst, H, The Story of Art, 16th ed., Phaidon, 1995
  • Heffernan, James A, Museum of Words: The Poetics of Ekphrasis from Homer to Ashbery, University of Chicago Press, 1993
  • Mirzoeff, Nicholas, An Introduction to Visual Culture, Routledge, 1999
  • Mitchell, William T. What do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images, University of Chicago Press, 2005.
  • Mulvey, Laura, ‘Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema’, in Visual and Other Pleasures. Indiana University Press, 1989
  • Nochlin, Linda, Women, Art and Power and Other Essays, Thames and Hudson, 1989
  • Pollock, Griselda, Vision and Difference: Femininity, Feminism and the Histories of Art, Routledge, 1988
  • Rose, Gillian, Visual Methodologies: an Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials, 2nd edition, Sage, 2007
  • Sturken, Marita and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: an introduction to visual culture, Oxford University Press, 2001