Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual after the Cultural Turn (MIT Press)

Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual after the Cultural Turn (MIT Press)

Margaret Dikovitskaya

Language: English

Pages: 326

ISBN: 0262541882

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In recent years, visual culture has emerged as a growing and important interdisciplinary field of study. Visual culture regards images as central to the representation of meaning in the world. It encompasses "high" art without an assumption of its higher status. But despite the current proliferation of studies and programs in visual culture, there seems to be no consensus within the field itself as to its scope and objectives, definitions, and methods. In Visual Culture, Margaret Dikovitskaya offers an overview of this new area of study in order to reconcile its diverse theoretical positions and understand its potential for further research. Her aim is to show how visual culture can avoid what she defines as the Scylla and Charybdis that threaten it: the lack of a specific object of study (given its departure from the traditional hierarchies of art history) and the expansion of the field to the point of incoherence as it seems to subsume everything related to the cultural and the visual.

Dikovitskaya gives us an archaeology of visual culture, examining the "cultural turn" away from art history and the emergence of visual studies. Drawing on responses to questionnaires, oral histories, and interviews with the field's leading scholars, she discusses first the field's history, theoretical frameworks, and methods, and then examines four programs and courses in visual culture -- those at the University of Rochester, the University of Chicago, the University of California at Irvine, and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Bringing together considerations of theory and practice, Dikovitskaya charts the future of visual culture programs in the twenty-first century.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

corporatist com m itm ent to dow n­ size (Readings 1996). Cost-effective interdisciplinary visual studies programs appeal to the administrative personnel. Essentially, interdisciplinarity serves the efficiency directive, and in this capacity, visual studies does threaten the discipline o f art history. Curricula an d the Objectives T he R ochester’s V CS Program requires fifteen courses, w hich m ost Ph.D. students spend two and a half years com pleting. All doctoral students take eight core

criticism required. Howard Singerm an at the U niversity of V irginia, C harlottesville, 2001. Photo by W illia m W ylie. institu tions and Pedagogy 107 I w anted to sit dow n and thin k about some engaging topic for a longer p eriod o f tim e. I already knew that I w anted to do research on the history o f the M FA degree, but I had no idea w hat form this w ork w ould take. . . . T he program at R ochester looked on paper pretty remarkable, since it boasted Craig Owens, N orm an Bryson, M

criticism required. Howard Singerm an at the U niversity of V irginia, C harlottesville, 2001. Photo by W illia m W ylie. institu tions and Pedagogy 107 I w anted to sit dow n and thin k about some engaging topic for a longer p eriod o f tim e. I already knew that I w anted to do research on the history o f the M FA degree, but I had no idea w hat form this w ork w ould take. . . . T he program at R ochester looked on paper pretty remarkable, since it boasted Craig Owens, N orm an Bryson, M

and visual an­ thropology. It is very interesting. W ould you agree that visual culture re­ quires m ethodologies that are distinctive and different from those that art history and cultural studies are employing? TC: I think so; it has to m eld them or make new and different models. I don’t thin k visual culture is going to base its models on G om brich or even on W olfflin, w ho are the great classics o f art history— you use them but at the same tim e you know that their analytical

how text and image differ in their incom m ensurate ways o f representing things or the world. M any others were tending to com bine them in a single m odel o f cultural studies— “it is all culture.” W h at I like about N orm an Bryson is that this is precisely w hat he does not do: he applies a m ethod­ ology, say, from literary criticism to a w ork o f art, and notes the resistance o f the one to the other that is in fact critical to the production o f m ean­ ing, a result foreign to a m ore

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