Virginia Commonwealth University

Media Art & Text Ph.D program


« Courses

MATX seminars

  • MATX 690 Seminar in Media Art & Text
  • Semester course; three lecture hours. Three credits. Graduate-level research and reading centered on interdisciplinary study.

Spring 2017

  • Technology, Race, and Gender Games
  • Karen Rader,
    Department of History; Science, Technology, and Society program
  • This discussion-intensive graduate seminar investigates the complex representations and experiences of what STS scholars have called ‘technoculture’ and how these mediate – and in turn, are mediated by –embodiments of gender and race. We will investigate the intersection of gender and race in the history of modern Western science and technology (1850 onward), and how these intersections have shaped the development and use of particular technologies (from the household to the workplace) as well as visions of alternate framings for technoscientific presents and futures.  Readings will be draw from extensive STS scholarship (history, sociology, theory) in this area, as well as historical primary sources in the development of science and technology, including the history of industrial standardization, medical texts and practices, and computing and the internet.

Selected Past Seminars

  • Deadly Devices: Point-of-View-Shots in Combat, Sports and Games
  • Oliver Speck, Film Studies, School of World Studies
  • Many news outlets have remarked on a recent macabre phenomenon: terrorists now record their attacks with lightweight cameras that were initially designed and marketed for extreme sports. The affinity of extreme sports and terrorist attacks hardly needs to be pointed out: a fast-paced, dangerous, potentially deadly activity in a hostile terrain is recorded from the point of view of the participant bearing witness to the authenticity of an exhilarating experience. The exact way in which this device is deployed deserves careful analysis, as the graphic footage then finds its way into recruitment videos mostly aimed at disaffected young men and women in Europe, the United States and other developed and developing regions. This seminar will elucidate this particular challenge to our democracy by looking at the complex ideological underpinning of this narrative device, relating point-of-view-shots in video games, extreme sports and combat to a solid base of political philosophy.

  • The Virtual and Political in Cinema
  • Oliver Speck, Film Studies, School of World Studies
  • This course will explore films that treat virtual reality as an alternative consciousness (e.g. “Total Recall,” “The Matrix,” “eXistenZ”), comparing them to films that introduce a notion of the virtual as developed by Gilles Deleuze in his two cinema books and in the two books he co‐authored with Felix Guattari (“Groundhog Day,” “Run Lola Run,” “The Third Generation”). Since the virtual holds potential for political change, but should not be confused with the possible, films can help to think a “community to come,” as Giorgio Agamben conceptualizes it (“Hero,” “Miracle in Milan” and “Our Daily Bread”).

  • Representing the Artist
  • Eric Garberson, Department of Art History
  • This Media Art and Text topic seminar examines representations of the visual artist from the 18th century to the present. The principal question to be investigated is how the cultural constructs of creativity and artistic identity are produced and reproduced, visually and textually, across different social and institutional contexts. The course will begin with a variation on Foucault’s question, asking “what is an artist?” and reading key historical and theoretical texts on the figure of the artist. This will provide the foundation for a selective, thematic survey of representations in scholarly and literary texts (artist monographs and catalogues raisonnés, novels and short stories), fine art (painting and graphics) and popular media (advertising and film). Class format will be primarily a discussion of assigned readings, which will include secondary scholarly literature and primary sources, both textual and visual. Each student will select a topic relevant to his or her own interests for a major research project culminating in a presentation and a 20‐page paper.