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Academics . Courses

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Social Cinemas: Politics of Representation and Engagement

Course No. ACD 322 / HCS 322  Credits: 3.0

Social is a term used to describe all kinds of art and media today including social media, social practice, and activist media directed toward “social change.” This course examines film and video work that demands we think carefully about how the social is defined and represented as an idea, an experience, and a world (or worlds). We will begin by considering Jean Vigo’s call for a new “social cinema” in the 1930s. We’ll consider how experimental and avant-garde film functioned as a means for organizing social worlds and expressing social critique. We’ll ask what Stan VanDerBeek might have meant when he described the rise of a “new social media consciousness” in 1974. And finally we’ll look at how contemporary filmmakers and video artists respond to the way the Internet has changed our relationships to one another and to the events that shape our sense of how the larger social world is structured and defined. May be applied as an art history elective, post-1960s art history elective, or humanities/cultural studies elective. Visual Culture Emphasis course.

African American Art

Course No. ACD 334  Credits: 3.0

This course covers African American art from the late 1700s to the present emphasizing the formal qualities of art as well as the social and cultural contexts within which it was created. Lectures and assigned readings are drawn from the scholarship of art history, literature, anthropology and history. We examine works by U.S. Artists of African descent and others who engage aspects of African American life and culture. Visual Culture Emphasis course.

Advertising + Consumer Culture

Course No. ACD 347  Credits: 3.0

This course will examine advertisements in the print media with respect to various elements, including: economic and social class; race; ethnic identity; age; gender; and sexuality. The course begins with an introduction to the method of analysis called semiotics, the techniques of which will be used to determine how advertisements convey their messages and how they address themselves to particular consumers. In addition to the elements outlined above, we will discuss several recent controversial issues. While this course will not center on a history of advertising, it will treat the historical place of print advertising in a capitalist consumer culture. Interventionist tactics by various artists that attempt to subvert the economic and ideological function of ads will also be examined. Visual Culture Emphasis course. Fulfills post-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 448.

The Body: Tradition, Transformation, Transgression

Course No. ACD 359  Credits: 3.0

This seminar-style course will explore one of the most important themes of twentieth-century visual art: the body (male and female). We will discuss a complex range of ideas and values associated with the nude (and naked) body as it has been represented in 20th c. photography; painting; sculpture/installation; performance and body art; and video. While the "great tradition" of the nude will be introduced, the course will focus on art produced since the 1950s (from the late modern to the postmodern era). Among other topics, we will study the visual body as a representational site for the self; for erotic desire; for the political position of women; and for formal experimentation. We will look at art that presents bodies which are very much outside tradition: i.e., bodies that are sick, decaying, dying, dead, aging, obese, androgynous, deformed, etc. Topics and terms of analysis will include: the traditional nude; feminist critiques of sexism; voyeurism; "exploitation," "obscenity," and censorship; objectification (gaze theory) sexuality; the nude self-portrait and portrait; parody and quotation; the female nude and modernism; Kenneth Clark's nude-naked (ideal-real) dichotomy; identity and performance; and formal aestheticizing of the body. Visual Culture Emphasis course. Fulfills post-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 458.

Indigenous Cultures: The Inca, Aztec and Maya

Course No. ACD 360 / SNS 460  Credits: 3.0
Faculty Elizabeth Hoag

This will be a lecture based, Anthropology course that focuses on the three major civilizations of Pre-Hispanic Latin America; the Aztec, Maya, and Inca. We will study the three civilizations to understand the complexity of New World cultures, and to understand what their legacy to the Americas is today. Apply as social or natural science or non-Western Art History elective. Formerly Pre-Hispanic Civilizations: The Aztec, the Maya, the Inca; ACD 360/SNS 360.



World Cinemas

Course No. ACD 374 / NCS 374 / HCS 374  Credits: 3.0

Writing on film aesthetics in 1930, a year marked by global financial crisis and mounting political conflict, Béla Balázs did not feel it was possible to speak of the “people of the world.” But if that day were ever to arrive, he predicted, film would be there “ready and waiting to provide the universal spirit with its corresponding technique of expression.” Today we talk about how technology has altered the world, making it feel smaller and infinitely expanded at the same time. But can we still say film holds the promise of universal expression? If not, what does it promise now? What, in other words, do film’s techniques of expression correspond to in our contemporary world?

In this course, we will spend time looking carefully at cinematic technique in films produced all over the world during the course of the medium’s history. At the same time we will also look carefully at the ideas and fantasies that animate “world cinema” as a label for certain kind of films without taking for granted that this phrase always means or has meant the same thing. Why do some critics and theorists embrace this term while others find it inadequate, a bad fit, something in need of qualification or replacement? What corrections and critiques have these writers offered? How do their observations change the way we see film technique and our own unexamined assumptions about how film makes the world available to each of us as viewers? May be applied to fulfill the non-western art history requirement. $25 course fee required. Formerly ACD 374X/HCS 374X.

American Crafts History

Course No. ACD 376  Credits: 3.0

This course will necessarily focus on American crafts. However, an effort will be made to incorporate other expressions (especially non-western) into the mix too. For example, there are readings in Adamson on the Scandinavian slöjd system, Bauhaus aesthetics, the Japanese concept of mingei, the Indian notion of svadharma, the Mande blacksmiths of West Africa, and subversive (feminist) stitchery, in addition to writings by Anni Albers, Karl Marx, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ellen Gates Starr, George Nakashima, Carole Tulloch, Garth Clark, and many more. Visual Culture Emphasis course.

Issues in 20th and 21st Century Art: Research, Engagement + Politics in Contemporary Art

Course No. ACD 380  Credits: 3.0

This joint course between CIA and CWRU will revolve around the main issues and questions of late 20th and 21st century art, namely:

- What is Contemporary? Possible definitions and conceptual revisions.
- Theory versus Praxis, or a more combined Art + Research model?
- Art as a thinking process | Thinking as a creative process (following the contemporary, and truly trans-historical model: “art as research” and “research as art”)
- The dynamic inter-relationship of different media, and fields of study (as in installation art, and Krauss’s “post-medium condition”).
- The anxiety of interdisciplinarity (an inquiry and examination of the efforts, as well as the resistance, towards such approach).

Artists, for the most part, no longer define themselves as medium-specific, but primarily as visual artists and researchers. Fluidity among media is currently explored in a philosophical and artistic positioning that regards indeterminacy, uncertainty, and even ambiguity as positive and productive values. Inter/Cross/Trans/Multi are, therefore, welcomed prefixes and defining elements of an artistic discourse that aims at moving beyond established categories.

Interdisciplinarity involves the combining of two or more disciplines into one activity, and it entails creating something new by crossing or thinking across boundaries. This might generate a sense of anxiety, which reflects the territorialization quite prevalent in academic and artistic arenas.

More than specifically or strictly answering these main questions, the course will attempt to open channels for exchange, debate, and discussion, raising awareness about the most relevant and pressing issues in the 21st Century art. Fulfillspost-1960s art history requirement. Formerly ACD 380X.

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