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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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Student Journal

InVisible Culture: A Journal for Visual Culture (IVC) is a student run interdisciplinary journal published online twice a year in an open access format. Through double blind peer reviewed articles, creative works, and reviews of books, films, and exhibitions, our issues explore changing themes in visual culture. Fostering a global and current dialogue across fields, IVC investigates the power and limits of vision.

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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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A woman holding a painting of Jesus with a Make America Great Again hat.

Faculty News

Why is a 16th-century tradition attracting activists on the Christian right?

Scholar Anna Rosensweig explains how early modern resistance theory is inspiring far-right individuals to defy local, state, and federal laws.

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