Reading and Writing about Visual Experience: A Home for the Eye/I: Reading Images/Writing visually
“One must confront vague ideas with clear images”—Jean-Luc Godard (Il faut confronter des idées vagues avec des images claires)
This course sensitizes students to various analytical approaches to 20th century painting, photography and the moving image. Our main strategy will be to consider how modernist writing and avant-garde art might be read in tandem to trace the changing status of the image, in text and the visual field. Specifically, how does the image trouble and resolve the notion of home as it is manipulated in various discourses in the 20th century? In reading poetry, prose and art criticism, we will question how literary techniques such as description, metaphor and ekphrasis (the graphic, often dramatic, description of a visual work of art) manipulate story and argumentation to offer interpretations of the idea of home. We will interrogate how the writing of light (photography) and of movement (cinematography) can be considered both document and art. We will explore the terms writing, reading and work through theoretical texts and artworks that challenge and extend the understanding of these terms within their specific social and political contexts. Emphasis will be placed on writing visually and reading images closely. Throughout the semester, small assignments will pave the way for a ten-page research paper.
Readings and objects may include work from: Andrei Tarkovsky, Roland Barthes, Diane Arbus, Francis Alÿs, Laurie Anderson, Michel de Certeau, Paul Klee, Paul Valéry, John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound and Judith Butler.