Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue
Society, Sign, Text and Subject
This module is available as an elective
At the end of this module, students will have a working knowledge of four areas - theories of society, sign, text and subject - that contribute to the theoretical foundations for contemporary art historical and cultural analysis. They will have a first-hand reading knowledge of key texts, for instance: Marx, Saussure, Peirce, Eco, Barthes, Mitchell, Kristeva, Derrida, de Man, Freud, Foucault, Lacal, Spivak and Bhabha. They will also be able to work with structuralism, deconstruction, discourse theory, theories of textuality, semiotics and psychoanalysis. The students will have explored ways of deploying these theoretical models to the analysis of visual images. The module aims to introduce students at a graduate level to the debates concerning art as a form of cultural production within ideology, art as a form of signification, art as a textual system which places specific emphasis on modes of reading and art as the site of the inscription and transformation of social subjectivities positioned through psycho-symbolic processes and in language and structures of difference. The module aims to link theories and methods for the practice of art history and cultural analysis to major questions of representation, difference, meaning in relation to the social and psychic formations of class, gender, sexuality and race.
1. Introduction: Screening and Discussion; 2. Theories of Society: Marx and the Mode of Production; 3. Theories of Society: Theories of Ideology from Marx to Althusser and Gramsci; 4. Theories of the Sign: Introduction to Semiotics - Saussure, Peirce, Barthes; 5. Theories of the Sign: Semiotics and the Cinema: Case Study; 6. Day School: Visual Analysis: Tropes of Difference; 7. Theories of the Text: Authors and Readers; 8. Theories of the Text: Deconstruction and Rhetoric: Derrida and de Man; 9. Theories of the Subject: From Identity to Subjectivity: Dreams and the Unconscious; 10. Theories of the Subject: Subjection and Subjectivity and Power and Desire; 11. Plenary Session and Review.
Form of teaching
Seminars: 11 x 3 hours; Screenings and one day school.
Form of assessment
1 x 4000-6000 word essay
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