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 2012

  • The Virtual and Political in Cinema
  • Oliver Speck
  • 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”).

Fall 2011

  • Exception and its Representation
  • Oliver Speck
  • Since its original publication and subsequent translations into other languages, Giorgio Agamben’s Homo sacer project has drawn a lot of critical attention. This seminar will explore Giorgio Agamben’s concept of a permanent “state of exception” that appears to serve as the unacknowledged rule of contemporary politics. Readings include Agamben’s books on the subject, as well as works by Michel Foucault, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin and Jacques Derrida, from whom Agamben takes up impulses and whose concepts he reconfigures. Parallel to these theoretical readings, the seminar will closely examine representations of the state of exception in film in an attempt to not only flesh out, but also critique Agamben’s theory.

Spring 2011

  • Representing the Artist
  • Eric Garberson
  • 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.

Fall 2010

  • Feminist Theories of Media
  • Gretchen Soderlund
  • This seminar will consider current and foundational scholarship in feminist studies of media. Feminist media studies has historically concerned itself with popular forms of cultural production and consumption in conscious contrast to feminist film studies which initially drew on French cultural criticism for inspiration. In this seminar, we will consider the contributions feminism has made to conceptions of communication, reception, spectatorship, sexuality and identity across major media forms (print, radio, television and digital media) and intellectual traditions, including psychoanalysis, ethnography, Marxism and post‐structuralism. We will also investigate the range of methodologies employed by feminist media theorists as well as the challenges new media technologies have presented to feminist theories and methods grounded in older media.

Spring 2010

  • History of Avant Garde and Coterie Magazine
  • David Latané
  • This course will examine the interventions of writer/artist coteries through the vehicle of the magazine. To begin, we will look briefly at a moment of origin in the coffeehouse culture of early 18th‐century London with the Spectator papers. The bulk of the course will be taken up with examining specific cases, a number of which link artists in several media. Among those we may take up:
  • Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine, (1817‐1822)
  • The Germ, the short‐lived magazine of the Pre‐Raphaelite Brotherhood
  • The Dial and the Yellowbook, 1890s decadence
  • Blast, Wyndham Lewis and other artists, writers, and musicians
  • Wiper’s Times, soldiers’ satire from the front in WWI
  • Dada and post‐Dada periodicals such as Jedermann sein eigner Fussball and De Stijl
  • Broom, 1920s American avant‐garde literary magazine
  • Evergreen Review, the voice of the Beats, etc.
  • Stand, a classic British little magazine centered outside the metropole
  • Each student will be expected to write a researched seminar paper and participate in the construction of a prospectus for a 21st‐century magazine in the spirit of the above — that is, not an institutionally situated bulwark of the literary-artistic status quos.