This course is compulsory for those Online Culture: Art, Media and Society students who choose the exit profile ‘Research’.
The course is divided into two parts:
1 Sociality and conventions
Virtually every human being interacts with other people, and does so on a daily basis. This makes understanding our sociality a basic and crucial component of understanding what it means to be human. In this module we look at the biological and cultural foundations of sociality, at its various manifestations in everyday life, at the social and cultural environments that result from it, and at the ways in which understanding sociality helps us understand our current globalized and digitalized culture. We first read some basic anthropological literature on sociality. This will discuss how the way our cognition works helps shape how we socialize, how this in turn shapes our relationships, and how this accounts for the lives we lead and the societies we build. The effects of human sociality are visible in many aspects of our everyday life: we talk all day, we communicate face-to-face and online, we undertake professional and leisure activities together with others, we take care of our various relationships, and we make use of opportunities that would be unimaginable if humans wouldn’t cooperate as incessantly as they do. In the second part of the module, we explore how understanding sociality helps understand how we interact in modern life.
2 Experience and aesthetics
We will start this block by discussing an art project exhibited at the Venice Biennale 2019: the ‘Barca Nostra’, the remains of a vessel that sank while carrying migrants from Libya in 2015 (project by Christoph Büchel). Many visitors make selfies in front of this project. The question is why they do this: is it engagement with the migrant’s experiences or is it the pleasure of distance (and spectacle).
Then we will study the work of three theorists who have said interesting things about art and experience: 1. John Dewey (1934), Art as Experience (chapter 1), 2. Hans-Georg Gadamer, Truth and Method, Part 1, chapter 1, and 3. Raymond Williams (1974), Keywords, Experience Past & Present. In these theories we find interesting thoughts about experiences expressed, represented and evoked in art works.
Subsequently, using the theories as frame, we will analyze how experiences of Syrian refugees are re/presented in three graphic novels: Don Brown, The Unwanted, Stories of the Syrian Refugees; Kate Evans, Threads from the Refugee Crisis; and Olivier Kugler, Escaping Wars and Waves, Encounters with Syrian Refugees. The objective is that we analyze these works on various levels: the representation of individual and collective experiences; the realist and imagined life stories told; the artistic (stylistic) processes implemented by the artists, and the journalistic reportage. We will also analyze how the recipient of these graphic novels is influenced (inspired to think) by these works. And we will examine the impact these works had in the public sphere.
The aim of this block is to make students aware of their position as ‘cultural agent’, that is someone who is capable to connect the humanities to a tradition of civic development. Taking a role as cultural agent, the student contributes to societal knowledge based on analyzing artistic work framed by relevant culture theories.
- to be announced