ANTH 472/572

Course Overview

According to the American Anthropological Association, Visual Anthropology includes a broad range of approaches to visual symbols, phenomena, and media in anthropological research, teaching, theory, and methodology. So, for example, primate facial expressions, archaeological aerial photography, and wooden sculptural forms have been studied as visual phenomena using a variety of anthropological approaches. Despite the wide range of phenomema that can be included in the study of Visual Anthropology, ethnographic film and video making have played a dominant role in the field. Given the significance of visual images in our own and other societies since the invention of photography and, now, digital imaging, a focus on these forms of visual representation is a powerful and relevant entry point for studying Visual Anthropology.

In this class we will examine past/present anthropological uses and analyses of still and moving photographic/digital images. Since anthropology has borrowed from sociology, cultural studies, and feminist scholarship, some consideration of those influences will be included. We will study both anthropologically informed image-making and anthropologically informed analysis of images. Special emphasis will be placed on examining practices that have been used in constructing Others.

Course topics include: theoretical approaches used in analyzing visual data in images; the ethics of representing others; ethnographic reportage styles and issues; reflexive, "insider", and cooperative strategies of representation; and the relationship of photographic/digital images to other forms of cultural expression. Exercises, discussions of readings and films/videos, and individualized projects will be featured learning strategies.

Skills Acquisition

This course introduces a number of strategies of visual analysis including content, semiotic, and gaze assessment. Students will have many opportunities to use critical and reflexive thinking in assessing and developing ideas about visual images. Students will learn research skills such as photo elicitation, ethnohistorical analysis, and visual comparative analysis. Students will also be encouraged to increase their skills for seeking information on the WWW.

In addition to learning about the specific modes of visual analysis, students will hone critical reading skills, interpretation, and analysis of secondary sources of written data. There will be many opportunities to improve communication skills in discussions, written critiques of others' work, formal oral and visual presentations, and written papers. All students will create an original project using an anthropological approach to some photographic topic. A variety of skills may be used in that endeavor, ranging from such those such as creating a video to creating a conference quality PowerPoint presentation.

Required Readings

All required texts will be on reserve.

Course Requirements and Grading Scale

Midterm Take-Home Exam 10%
Final Take-Home Exam 10%
Course Exercises 20%
Participation and Attendance
Includes feedback to five classmates' project proposals (1 pt. for every class period with full participation and 2 pts. for feedback to proposals)
Individual Project 30%

A .93
A- .90
B+ .87
B .83
B- .80
C+ .77
C .73
C- .70
& so forth

Attendance at all classes is mandatory (including classmates' presentations in the latter part of the quarter). You may have one unexcused absence without penalty. Other absences require a medical excuse or something comparable. Significant absence (more than two unexcused absences) will result in a lowered grade for the course. Complete assigned readings on time and come prepared for seminar type discussions.