Visual Culture Studies and Art History

lhart2240  2022-2023  Louvain-la-Neuve

Visual Culture Studies and Art History
5.00 credits
30.0 h
Main themes
Asking with W.J.T. Mitchell "What do pictures want?" the course studies the meanings and the functions of pictures within ancient and modern societies. On the one hand will be discussed the interactions of artistic and non-artistic images within specific historical and social contexts, on the other hand will be stressed the relationship between visual culture studies and the new art history.
Learning outcomes

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :

1 The course gives an introduction in the different themes and approaches of visual culture studies. More specifically, the students will learn to approach art as a practice of visual culture. Another goal is to discuss the place of art history within the broader field of visual culture studies.
Starting from the idea of a "pictorial turn" introduced by W.J.T. Mitchell in 1992 in order to respond to the renewed interest in and prevalence of pictures within a society dominated by the mass media, it will be question of defining the place of art history within this cultural setting. Since then, the study of visual culture has not only become a widely accepted academic field but finds more and more its way into the debates of art history. If one wants to situate art within that broader context of visual culture the following issues have to be considered: - From a semiotic point of view, images - artistic or not - may be seen in relation to social practices and relations which construct their meanings. - In order to understand what regulates the meanings of images in modern societies, issues of reproducibility and technology have to be tackled as well as historical and institutional conditions. - Finally, drawing on the insight that meaning is not residing within the object but is constituted in the articulation between viewer and viewed, the cultural practices of looking and seeing must be taken into account. Thus, semiological, anthropological, and psychological approaches are indispensable for understanding visual practices and the image's capacity to convey meaning. Within this general framework, the guiding questions will be how art practices can be described and analyzed as meaning-producing practices in modern societies and, on an epistemological level, how art history deals with and may benefit from the issues risen by visual culture studies. The teachers will introduce the main themes and approaches by alternating general observations with special issues (case studies).
Evaluation methods
Oral presentation and written paper.
Ouvrage de référence: Nicholas Mirzoeff, An Introduction to Visual Culture, London, New York, Routledge, 2009 (second edition).
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Learning outcomes
Master [120] in History of Art and Archaeology: Musicology

Advanced Master in Visual Cultures

Master [120] in History of Art and Archaeology : General

Master [60] in History of Art and Archaeology : General

Master [60] in History of Art and Archaeology: Musicology