VSGC Certificate Requirements

Graduate students intending to concentrate in visual studies must be admitted to a Ph.D. program at USC. While fulfilling all the requirements for their departmental graduate degree, they may also earn a certificate of competency in visual studies. To receive the certificate, students must take MDA/VIST 501 ("Introduction to Visual Studies: Methods and Debates"), a team-taught MDA/VIST 599 course, and two other graduate seminars from an approved list of relevant courses, 500 and above, for a total of at least 16 units. Directed research may not be taken toward the award of the certificate.


In addition to the completion of these course requirements, students must focus on visual studies as part of their doctoral dissertation. Alternatively, they may take an oral examination based on three research papers they have written within the context of their visual studies coursework. The oral exam will be administered by faculty members affiliated with the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate. Faculty will be responsible for judging the adequacy of the visual studies component in the student's dissertation or oral examination.


MDA 501     

 

Over the last two decades, visual studies has gained wide currency as a topic of research and teaching in universities both in the United States and abroad. Scholars from disciplines as diverse as art history, American studies, literature, anthropology, film and media studies, history and gender studies have focused attention on both the cultural specificity of vision and on the ever-widening array of images and objects available for viewing.

This course will provide a critical introduction to the history, methods and central debates within the field. How have scholars and critics taken up – or in some cases dismissed - the study of visual studies and to what ends? What are the limits and possibilities of the interdisciplinary models on offer? We will explore these questions through a sustained engagement with selected texts about images, vision, visuality and visual objects. Students will write a final paper of 20-25 pages in length in which they choose a visual object, experience, institution, or theory about vision and visuality and survey how it has been studied and then re-examine it from the perspective of what they have learned about Visual Studies and interdisciplinarity over the course of the semester.

 

Pre-approved Courses

 

The following list of courses is "pre-approved" for credit toward the certificate. Students may choose to take any two of these seminars, in addition to MDA 501 and MDA 599, toward the completion of the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate. Additional graduate seminars may also be approved on a case-by-case basis if more than half of the course material is devoted to visual culture and its interpretation.

Pre-Approved Course for Visual Studies Ph.D. Certificate:
AHIS 501 Problems in the History and Theory of Collecting and Display
AHIS 505 Seminar in Feminist Theory and Visual Culture
ANTH 576/577 Anthropological Media Seminar
ANTH 602 The Anthropology of Popular Culture
COLT 640 Seminar in Literature and Visual Culture
COMM 584 Seminar: Interpreting Popular Culture
CTCS 511 Seminar in Non-Fiction Film/Video
CTCS 518 Seminar in Avant-Garde Film/Video
CTCS 677 Cultural Theory
EALC 535 Proseminar in Chinese Visual Culture
ENGL 502 Contemporary Literary and Cultural Theory
ENGL 620 Literature and Interdisciplinary Studies
FA 551 Fine Art and Interdisciplinary Studies
GERM 581 Weimar Culture
HIST 520 Modernity and its Visual Culture
HIST 620 Research Seminar on Modern Visual Culture
PAS 585 Public Space, the Public Realm and Public Art
SLL 665 Seminar in Russian Culture and the Arts

 

Post-coursework Component

 

In addition to the completion of the course requirements, students must focus on visual studies as part of their doctoral dissertation. Alternatively, they may take an oral examination based on three research papers they have written within the context of their visual studies coursework. The oral exam will be administered by faculty members affiliated with the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate. Faculty will be responsible for judging the adequacy of the visual studies component in the student's dissertation or oral examination.