"ISC 541 Visual Literacy Visual Culture"
ISC 541: Visual Literacy & Visual Culture Instructor: Dr. Alyssa Eckman (firstname.lastname@example.org) Where to find me: Rm. 112 Grehan Building (go to 1st floor elevator and turn left). When to find me: Office hours: Monday 10-11 a.m.; Tuesday & Thursday 3– 4 p.m.; Please see attached schedule for more info. Visits are always welcome during open times as discussed in “What does it all mean?” Or, you can schedule an appointment. Teaching assistant: Erin Gilles (email@example.com) Where to find her: TA office, 124 Grehan Building (Walk from main office towards Dean’s office. Turn right instead of left) When to find her: Monday 1-2 p.m., Wednesday 1-2 p.m. and by appointment. Course description: This course is an introduction to the theoretical foundations of visual communication. Our goal is to gain understanding of visual messages and how audiences may process those messages and subsequently respond. We will discuss social and cultural influences on visual communicators and their audiences. You will apply critical thinking skills to analyze advertising visuals and other mass mediated messages at a theoretical level. What meanings and cultural messages are consciously or unconsciously used to build brand and sell product? How do audiences make meaning from the marketing messages that pervade our daily lives? Answering questions such as these will provide a foundation that can help guide you as an ISC professional and as a member of our consumer culture. This is not a graphic design or computer applications course. You will probably go through the entire semester using a computer only as a word processor and online research tool. We will, however, study the underlying concepts of graphic design and the approaches used by designers to create advertising messages. You will also complete several hands-on exercises to improve your visual communications skills. Learning foundational concepts will enhance your visual acuity and result in an ability to create more effective ISC messages. Course requirements & policies: Textbook: Practices of Looking: An introduction to visual culture (2001) by Sturken and Cartwright. Materials: Pens, pencils, markers, paint, crayons (or other media), paper, scissors, glue sticks. Just like elementary school – this could be fun You should probably bring your textbook and notes to class, but you do not have to lug around the materials listed above. Well, maybe you should bring a pencil, pen or crayon with which to take notes. If we do an in-class exercise that requires tools or materials, I’ll bring some for you to use in class. Attendance: Attendance is totally up to you. If you don’t show up for test one, you’ll get a score of zero or if you don’t show up for the final exam, you fail ISC 541 (unless, of course, you have an excusable absence). If you are not attending class and a paper or exercise is due, a hard copy needs to be in my mailbox before I leave for class (5:45 p.m.) or it is considered late. Late penalties: There will be a 20 percent deduction off any project or paper that is turned in late. “Late” is defined as one minute or more past the time it was due. If it’s due in class that means the assignment is due at 6 p.m. for those attending class and 5:45 p.m. for those who are not. What you’ll miss if you’re not in class: A lot. I use at least a dozen outside resources to gather the information that is disseminated in class. If you’re not there – how will you know what you need to know when test time rolls around? Also, I will not – under any circumstances – email assignment sheets to anyone who misses class due to an unexcused absence. Either come see me in person (see attached schedule) or rely on a kind-hearted classmate to save your tail. If you want notes to study by, you should attend class and write down way more than what you see on the PowerPoint. Again, you could beg a friend to help you out, but what if they suck at taking notes? Here’s the “but” or exception to the above: If you have an excused absence as defined by university policy or approved in advance by myself, I will get you all the materials you need and work with you one-on-one to help you get caught up. Electronically mediated communication: Email is great – until you have a question that takes more than two sentences to ask or answer. Then, it takes too much or your time and mine, so I’ll just ask you come see me anyway. Why not skip a step and just stop by for a quick chat? I rarely check emails in the evenings and I do not check or respond to emails between Friday afternoon and Monday morning. I left the newspaper business so I can have evenings and weekends off (unless I volunteer to teach a night class like this one). You also deserve some quality time to yourself – so try really hard to complete your work early so you can do what you do when you’re not working. I do not disseminate course materials via email and I do not accept electronic submissions. Yes, this kills trees, but it also ensures that a technical snafu will not mess up your grade. To make up for my evil requirements, please recycle as much paper as you can by placing it in one of those blue recycling containers. Grading: Generally, an A=100-90%; B=89-80%; C=79-70%; D=69-65%. This scale will never be raised, but could be lowered/curved at the end of the semester at the instructor’s discretion. Exercises, Projects, Tests: There will be no reading quizzes. Promise. However, I strongly encourage you to keep up with readings. We’ll have little to talk about if you don’t read. Staring silently at one another for 2 ½ hours is not my idea of a good time. Boring. Uncomfortable. Painful. Definitely no fun at all. Please read. Tests. There will be a midterm and a final. You should plan to take the midterm. If you don’t take the final you will fail the course. These exams will be worth 50- 60 points each. Tests will cover all information covered in the text and lecture. Exercises. We will complete a number of visual communications exercises over the semester. These will range from 10-25 points. They’ll be largely visual in nature. They’ll often be hands-on. Many may require you to write some explanations of your work. Some may involve intelligent, analytical critiques Many will be done outside of class. A few will be done in class on Wednesday nights. All will require you to display applications of concepts discussed in class and in the text. We will complete 5-8 of these over the semester – as time allows. Project. You will complete one culminating project that will demonstrate the broad knowledge base that you developed over the semester. This will be a written project that will include some visual elements. You will not prepare or provide an oral presentation, but we may ask you to share your ideas and outcomes with the class. We’ll share more information on this project as the semester progresses. It will be due before dead week. This project will be worth 50-75 points. Tentative course schedule Aug. 29 Visual Literacy. What do you see? Why do you see it? Read: Nothing at all. Sept. 5 Mass distribution of branding messages Read Intro (p. 1-90 and Chapter 5 (p.151-185 Sept. 12 Representation and iconic values Read: Chapter 1 (p. 10-41 Sept. 19 Aesthetics & Intro to visual grammar Read: Chapter 2 (p. 45-69 Sept. 26 Gazing through ads at sex and culture Read: Chapter 3 (p. 72-106 Oct. 3 Gestalt and Visual logic Read: Nothing from the book Oct. 10 MIDTERM TEST ONE Oct. 17 The fine art of advertising Read: Chapter 4 (p.109-185 Oct. 24 Influencing audiences through color Read: Nothing from the book Oct. 31 Visual ethics and digital images Read: If you haven’t already, finish Chapter 4 Nov. 7 Building and maintaining consumer culture (markets) Read: Chapter 6 (p.189-218 Nov. 14 Selling meaning and brand image Receive final project guides Read: Chapter 6 (p. 218-235 Nov. 21 No class: Go eat some politically incorrect poultry Nov. 28 What is a postmodern consumer fetish? Is it real? Read: Chapter 7 (p. 240-277 Nov. 30 Your final project is due Dec. 5 Yes, we have class. Show up if you want info about the final. Dec. 10 Final exam at 6 p.m. (Yes, Monday is the correct day for the test)