Spring 2017

  HA 290 | CCN: 15958

Graduate Seminar: Visibility, Virtuality, and Visuality

Whitney Davis,

Tuesday | 2:00 - 5:00pm

Based on recent work by the instructor, the seminar develops and tests a comprehensive framework for analysis of pictoriality in the visual field, deploying certain traditions of art-historical reasoning in combination with intellectual resources drawn from philosophical psychology (especially the theory of depiction), visual studies, and phenomenological anthropology. Proceeding from a baseline distinction between images and pictures, it focuses on the matter of “imaging pictures”—that is, how pictures become visible, are “imaged” to have a particular “pictoriality,” in the visual field understood to be subject not only to invariant laws of geometrical optics but also to historically varying constructions of “the visible.” Special attention will be given to the famous proposition that “vision itself has a history.” Readings will be drawn largely from art theoretical and art historical literature, whether recent or not, that bears on these analytic considerations, but we will also address other models in present-day image studies. Student projects will investigate relevant historiographies, explore historical and cross-cultural variations in the imaging of pictures (i.e., particular historical constructions and contexts of pictorial bivisibility, bivirtuality, and birotationality), and/or test the strengths and weaknesses of the analytic model(s) in application to examples.

Open to qualified undergraduates.