Communication and Culture | Images and Critique in Public Culture
C608 | 28032 | Simons, J.

Th, 4:00 PM-6:30 PM, Location: TBA

Meets with CULS-C 701
Open to Graduates Only!

Instructor: Jon Simons
Office: Mottier Hall 205
Phone: 856-0896

The course examines and assesses some contemporary critical thought
about images, especially the role of images in politics. Rather than
only pursuing various strategies for the critique of images that
have become familiar as ideology critique, the course explores the
possibility that it might be possible to think critically through
images. It studies different types of images (in advertising, film,
television, history and politics) through a variety of theoretical
approaches (Marxist ideology critique, Benjamin’s dialectics,
semiotics, psychoanalysis, visual culture and rhetoric, and
neuroscience). The course also addresses the following questions and
issues: whether all types of images can be considered as a category;
the relation between the visual and the verbal; the non-visual as
well as visual character of images; the pertinence of iconoclastic
hostility to images in society and politics; and the potential for
critical thought by means of images. The course opens with the view
that images are a problem for politics and society, before turning
around the opening negative assessment of images by looking at the
ways in which media images might provide critical insight or induce
critical thinking. We problematize the conception of images as only
visual, leading to a deeper examination of the relation between
words and images in democratic culture, then move on to some
considerations of the imagistic nature of human thinking drawn from
contemporary cognitive and neuroscience.


1) Seminar leadership and participation: 10%.
2) Seminar ‘write-up’: a critical assessment of the reading for a
seminar and the discussion we had about it, of approximately 1,500
words. By negotiation, the ‘write-up’ can include the production of
(an) image(s) and be of shorter word-length. 20%.
3) Paper proposal 10%
4) Class presentation 20%
5) Course paper: approx. 6-7,000 words, on any topic addressed by
the course. By negotiation, the paper can include (or even consist
of) the production of (an) image(s) and be of shorter word-length.
Image production projects may also be undertaken by pairs or groups,
by negotiation. 40%