Theories and Methods: Images, Affect, Practices
Full course description
Why do we find ourselves in tears in front of an abstract painting? Why do images of torture such as the infamous Abu Ghraib photographs produce such widespread sense of shock and disgust? How can a novel make the reader feel angry, happy or depressed? Questions like these demand an approach that goes beyond interpreting the content or symbolic meaning of works of art and culture. Instead of asking what artworks “represent” or “signify”, cultural theorists today are therefore increasingly concerned with art’s performative aspects, that is, the actual “work” that cultural artifacts “do” in the world. In this course we will examine the operations of art and culture from three divergent yet complementary perspectives based, respectively, in the linguistic, affective, and practical “turns” within the social and cultural sciences. Combining theoretical inquiry, critical debates, and practical exercises, we will develop the analytical skills necessary to examine the ways in which contemporary art and culture function on a variety of signifying and a-signifying registers.
Upon completion of the course students are able to
- demonstrate insight into three key theoretical and methodological approaches within cultural analysis, namely semiotics, affect studies, and ethnography;
- apply the analytical and critical skills needed to examine the ways in which art, literature and society operate on signifying and a-signifying levels;
- select and combine theories, concepts and methods appropriate for analyzing research problems;
- present arguments for the strengths and limitations of different theories and methods through group presentations and a portfolio;
- construct an effective research design for an original graduate research project.
Enrollment in MA ALS
Grusin, R. (2010). Premediation: Affect and mediality after 9/11. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Hengel, L. van den (2017). The arena of affect: Marina Abramović and the politics of emotion. In R. Buikema, L. Plate and K. Thiele (Eds), Doing gender in media, art and culture. London/New York: Routledge.
hoogland, r. c. (2014). A violent embrace: Art and aesthetics after representation. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth College Press.
Rose, G. (2012). Semiology: Laying bare the prejudices beneath the smooth surface of the beautiful. In Visual methodologies: An introduction to researching with visual materials (third edition) (pp. 105-148). London: SAGE.
-Akers, M. (dir.) (2012). Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present. Available from https://www.npo.nl/avro-close-up/26-06-2012/AVRO_1529983.