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The Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies was established in 1988 and gained New York State approval in 1991. It was developed as a collaboration across departments and disciplines with a focus on the critical and social-historical analysis of visual objects broadly defined.

Through interdisciplinary coursework and individual research, students develop critical skills for the analysis of visual images, taking approaches developed by literary and film studies (semiotics, psychoanalytic criticism, narratology) as well as more traditional art historical approaches (including formalism and the social history of art). Students are also encouraged to use digital tools and ethnographic methods that can offer fresh perspectives in the study of visual culture. Central to this work are feminist, queer, postcolonial, and critical race theories.

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Admissions for 2022-23

The Graduate Program in Visual and Cultural Studies will be accepting applications for the 2022-23 academic year. See the applying page for more information.


InVisible Culture

InVisible Culture is a student-run electronic journal of visual culture dedicated to exploring the material and political dimensions of visual and cultural practices.

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Graduate Conference

This interdisciplinary conference convenes graduate students from a variety of fields, such as film studies, museum studies, art history, and cultural anthropology.

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On Film

Our students run a film-screening project featuring independent and avant-garde films in their original formats. On Film is now in its fifth year.

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Dr. Janet Berlo.

Faculty News

Dr. Janet Berlo Retires

For 23 glorious years, Janet Berlo has been at the heart of Visual and Cultural Studies (VCS). She first joined the University of Rochester as the Susan B. Anthony Professor of Gender Studies and Professor of Art History in 1997, having received her PhD from Yale in 1980.

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