Visualizing Cultures >> Content Detail




In this new course, students will study how visual images shape the identity of peoples and cultures. A prototype digital project looking at American and Japanese graphics depicting the opening of Japan to the outside world by Commodore Matthew Perry in 1853 and 1854 will be used as a case study to introduce the conceptual and practical issues involved in “visualizing cultures.” Guest lecturers will include professionals engaged in various aspects of collecting, analyzing, and presenting graphic images. The major course requirement will be creation and presentation of a project involving visualized cultures.

Course requirements and grade

The major course requirement is an individual project on some aspect of “visualizing cultures,” due at the end of the semester. Additionally, students (1) will prepare a small module on “Perry and Japan, 1853-1854,” based on the Image Archive prepared for this course, and (2) will present a preliminary survey of visual resources in an area of particular interest, ideally related to their chosen course project. Students will discuss their projects individually with both instructors as the course progresses. All work must be turned in on time. Attendance at the weekly seminars is mandatory. If you must be absent, contact the instructors ahead of time.


Perry module (due Feb. 25): 15%
Presentation of a small “visualizing cultures” primer (due March 4): 15%
Class participation: 10%
Final Project (due May 13): 60%

Reading materials

Will be assigned in class.


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