Visual Culture - Topical Survey

Course Description: 

Studies of Visual Culture represent much more than research into images or works of art.  They are based on multidisciplinary and cross-faculty approaches concerning a variety of aspects that constitute the visual world as well as its perception and creation by humans. Therefore, they also mean a particular broadening of attention.

The course is meant to show the importance of this field of research for Medieval Studies and any other historical discipline and the possibilities of contextualizing application of Visual Culture-research. It deals with functions, influences and meanings of visual objects as well as with possible approaches to analyze them.

We will deal with the differences of Art History and Visual Studies as well as with their interdependence. Questions of the rhetoric of visual evidence, of seeing and reading, of the performance of visual artifacts as well as their sign language(s) will regularly determine our discussions. We may become aware of the situation that “visual studies – in recognition of new and newly rediscovered constellations of visual objects in use – proposes that we leave ourselves open to improvisation and surprise.” (James D. Herbert).

Learning Outcomes: 

Ability to synthesize information. Assessment: class journal; in-class written exam. Ability to employ higher-order thinking skills such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation. Assessment: class participation. Ability to contextualize a variety of information: class journal.


Regular class attendance is mandatory. All seminar members are expected to be active participants in the course. Each class will include the discussion of the assigned readings. Credits and marks are given on the basis of class participation (20%) three class-journals (summary of lectures and of reading assignments) (50%) and an in-class written exam (twelfth week; 30%).