The Department of Visual and Critical Studies serves students seeking rigorous tools to explore cultural phenomena. The artists, designers, critics, writers, and scholars who teach in the program take a variety of approaches and come from diverse fields, including: history; performance; art history; film, video, and new media; visual communication design; sociology; political science; sculpture; anthropology; and literature, among others.
They share a common interest in understanding influences on, and cultural and social meanings of visual experience. The curriculum emphasizes exploration of what is involved in the creation, dissemination, and impact of visual images, objects, and practices.
Interdisciplinary, Global, and Comparative Approach
Visual and Critical Studies core offerings focus on interdisciplinary work and often on a global and comparative approach. Interdisciplinary studio seminars are, at times, team-taught by studio and academic faculty. For example VCS 3090 Corporate Culture and Alternative Visions, which critically examines the designer's role in defining the images of corporations and promoting corporate goals, is team-taught by a corporate designer and a cultural critic/design historian.
We Are Scholars and Artists
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Visual and Critical Studies program is based on the assumption that BA in Visual and Critical Studies and Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA) students have much to learn from one another. Most of the courses that BA in Visual and Critical Studies students take are part of the regular BFA curriculum, and courses offered through the program are open to all other students. The BA in Visual and Critical Studies requirements include 18 hours of general electives.
This gives students the opportunity to take, if they wish, additional Visual and Critical Studies courses, or to place emphasis on a particular studio or academic area, for example, photography, philosophy, painting, design, or exhibition studies. All students complete a senior thesis project that builds on their earlier work.
BFA in Studio students may choose a BFA in Studio with Visual Critical Studies Thesis Option, in which they complete a nine-credit, research-based academic thesis as part of their BFA in Studio degree.