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.

Upcoming Events

Method, Madness, and Montage: From Aby Warburg to A Beautiful Mind

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W.J.T. Mitchell,
Professor of English and Art History, University of Chicago
August 29
DML 241
4pm
 

 

 

 


 

Look Out!
Visual Culture and the Future of the Humanities

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August 29-30
University of Southern California
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RSVP to vsri@usc.edu
 

 

 

 


 

Petrified Vision, Animate Wood: On the Photography of African Sculpture
 
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Megan Luke
Assistant Professor of Art History, USC
Tuesday, September 9
7-9PM
 

 


 

VSRI Back to School Graduate Student Lunch
 
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September 10
12:30-2:00pm
University Club
RSVP TO VSRI@USC.EDU BY SEPT 1.
 

 


 

Celebrating New Publications from the VSRI
 
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Tuesday, September 16
12:30-2:00PM
SOS 250
 

 


 

Depicting Spanish American Nature
 
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Thursday, September 18
12-2PM
SOS 250
 

 


 

VSRI Postdoc Welcome Reception
 
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Wednesday, October 1
4:00-5:30PM
Doheny Memorial Library 240
 

 


 

The Eternal Child: On Expecatations in the History of Photography
 
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Jan von Brevern 
Postdoctoral Researcher, Art History Department
Freie Universität Berlin
Tuesday, October 7 
7-9pm
 

 


 

VSGC Grant Writing Workshop
 
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Saturday, October 11
9:00AM-5:00PM
SOS 250
 

 


 

Building Cinematic Worlds: Production Design in 20th-Century American Film
 
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Monday, October 20
4-6PM
Doheney Memorial Library, Herklotz Room
 

 


 

Of(f) Museums: The Presentation of Anthropological Photographs in the Open Air
 
 
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Beatrice von Bismarck, Professor of Art History and Visual Culture, Cultures of the Curatorial Academy of Visual Arts, Leipzig
Friday, November 14
12-2PM
SOS 250
 

 


 

The Gay Essay
 
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Tuesday, November 18
Discussion from 7-8pm followed by a reception from 8-9pm
Brown Auditorium, LACMA
 
  • Visual Studies Graduate Certificate Program
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