What is the course about?
‘Critical theory’ has had a profound impact on how we think and write about visual art, or even how we experience it, whether it would be a medieval panting or contemporary multi-media installation. In this 5-week course we will explore the role that critical theory plays in the field of art history. The course is an introduction to the theoretical writing about art, how we look and how we respond to it. We cover such key authors as John Berger, Hal Foster, Rosalind Kraus, Jonathan Crary, Norman Bryson, Martin Jay and Laura Mulvey. We will focus on the critique of vision and visuality, and theory of the gaze. The course can be taken either in conjunction with Art and Critical Theory: Feminism, Post-colonialism and the Death of the Artist or separately.
What will we cover?
• Introduction to critical theory, from the authors such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Michel Foucault to Hal Foster and Rosalind Kraus.
• The topics of a critique of vision and theories of the gaze.
• The relevance of the concepts developed within critical theory for understanding art.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
• Discuss at least three key thinkers and their contribution to critical theory.
• Demonstrate improved critical analysis skills and an ability to situate artworks in a broader theoretical context.
• Evaluate the role of theoretical texts for looking at and thinking about art.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This course is suitable for most levels. Entry-level knowledge of art history and/or philosophy will be an advantage; readiness to engage with theoretical texts is crucial.
You should be able to follow written and verbal instructions, demonstrations, handouts and health and safety information, and will be invited to take part in group discussion.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
You will be taught with slide presentations, group discussions and short group exercises. There will be assigned weekly reading.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
You might wish to bring a notebook. You might wish to buy some of the books on any reading list given out in class.
When I've finished, what course can I do next?
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