Reading and Writing about Visual Experience
General Catalog Course Title:
Reading and Writing about Visual Experience
Terms Offered:
Fall 2016
Spring 2016
Fall 2015
Spring 2015
Course Thread: 
Human-Centered Design
Course Thread: 
Visible Language
Instructor: 
Hamill, Sarah
Instructor: 
Spigler, Joni
Instructor: 
Compton, Rebekah
Instructor: 
Ivy Mills

This course is an introduction to visuality and the disciplines of art history. Its primary aim is to guide students through the processes of learning to recognize and craft persuasive and elegant arguments about visual experience. We will anchor our inquiry of vision and perception, and our efforts to develop our capacity for interpretation, by focusing on the work of selected artists. We will also expand our inquiry beyond the fine arts, testing the applicability of our perceptual and analytic skills on other kinds of visual phenomena, including film, architecture, and advertising. To begin, we will familiarize ourselves with fundamental concepts and tools for reading and writing about visual experience. These include questions of material and form; models of attention and perception, the relationship between language and vision; the role of description in interpretation; and what constitutes a satisfying and complete account of visual experience. Throughout the semester we will analyze and improve our writing abilities as we move from basic compositional skills to the construction of a compelling and effective argument. Our work will be practical in nature, and a good portion of our class time will be spent talking in small groups and working on in-class writing exercises. At the end of the term, students will write a 7-9 page paper about a single artist or work of art. Reading will figure in this course as significantly as writing. We will devote much of our home preparation and class time to the discussion of short essays, analyzing them both for their rhetorical strategies and for the lessons they have to teach us about our own writing. Students should expect to submit their prose to the same kinds of analysis that will be applied to the work of published authors, counting themselves members of the wider community of writers.

For more detailed information about classes, please visit the UC Berkeley Online Schedule of Classes.