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Graduate Program

Overview

The Program in Visual and Cultural Studies was established in 1988 and gained New York State approval in 1991. The Program is administratively housed in the Department of Art and Art History. It was developed, however, as a collaboration across departments and disciplines, primarily Art and Art History and Modern Languages and Cultures, with their shared interests in film, art, and visual studies, and with the participation of faculty from Anthropology, English History, Studio Arts, and the Eastman School of Music. The focus of the Program is on the critical and social-historical analysis of visual objects. These objects include, but are not limited to: painting and sculpture, film, photography, television, new media; they also have included the segregated and affective spaces of American zoos; the liminal and “misused” spaces of Istanbul; artifacts of Korean national memory including its national archives; and the interaction between American media and public health information. Through rangy and probing interdisciplinary coursework and individual research, students develop critical skills to equip them to engage in  the analysis of visual images, ranging from more traditional art historical approaches (including formalist and social-art historical approaches) to those developed by literary and film studies (semiotics, psychoanalytic criticism, narratology), and other historical approaches (including those using digital tools and ethnographic methods), which can produce a wider perspectives in the study of visual culture. Central to this work are feminist, queer, post-colonial and critical race theories.