Drawing on work from visual anthropology and related fields, this course explores the world of things that are made by people with the intention that they will be seen—and seen as meaningful—by others. Along with art, artifacts, goods, and stuff we will consider visual media such as photography, film, and drawing. A broad survey class, we will engage in reading texts and examining a range of objects while considering questions such as: How do we see in the double sense of perceive and understand in culturally-specific ways? How do objects accrue value? How are things made and remade for different uses? And what about issues of skill in both the process of fabrication and seeing?
Note: the name of this course is inspired by the recent book Made to Be Seen: Perspectives on the History of Visual Anthropology, edited by Marcus Banks and Jay Ruby. The book has been a great help in preparing for this course. It is on reserve in the library.
The goals of this class include the following:
• read a variety of works from the fields of visual anthropology and visual studies more generally
• consider some of the key theoretical positions and basic vocabulary used in academic conversations on visual anthropology/visual studies
• gain a sense of how these ideas are used to understand different material phenomena, from different historical moments and/or different cultural sites
• work on writing skills as well as the oral articulation of ideas.