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Please see PennIntouch for VLST course offerings during the Spring 2015 Semester. 

We are busy working to connect this page to our database of course offerings in the very near future. 




Attention: VLST 101 and 103 are offered this semester and those interested in the Visual Studies major or newly declared are highly recommended to take these as VLST 102 is the only Stage 1 Core Course (C) offered in Fall 2015.


VLST 101. Eye, Mind, and Image.  

001 LEC TR 10:30-12:00noon | Hatfield/Dombrowski. 

Recitation Required.

201 REC F 10-11am205 REC F 1-2pm

202 REC F 11-12noon206 REC F 2-3pm

203 REC F 11-12noon207 REC T 10-11am

204 REC F 12-1pm208 REC F 1-2pm

May be counted toward the Hum/SocSci or NatSci/Math Sectors. Also fulfills General Education in Sectors IV (Humanities and Social Sciences) and VII (Natural Science and Mathematics) for Class of 2010 and beyond. 


Visual Studies 101 provides an introduction to a variety of approaches to understanding the nature of seeing, with attention to its physiological, environmental and cultural bases. The course compares and contrasts how artists, art historians, philosophers, and scientists consider the same broad set of issues. It is typically co-taught by two faculty whose expertise represents two of these different approaches, and whose lectures make explicit connections between different styles of intellectual endeavor. In this sense, the course is a microcosm of the visual studies major. 

The topics include - The eye, light and visual system, including both our modern understanding and a discussion of how this understanding developed over time. - The eye and culture, with particular emphasis on artistic depictions and concepts of the role of vision in society. - How perceptual abilities are measured in the lab, and the relationship between seeing and measurement and science. Perception and depiction of scenes, including depth, color, and motion. - How culture endows visual attributes (e.g. color) with meaning. - Depicting the body; seeing the self. - Visual memory and visual cognition. - Philosophy of seeing and science. What does it mean to see? How do we know what we see? Is seeing believing? 


VLST 103. 3 Dimensions: Time and Space.  

001 STU MW 10:00-1:00pm | Freedman/Neighbor 

Counts toward Stage 1 or 2 of the VLST major requirements. 


This course will cover the basic concepts of three dimensional design and sculpture such as volume and mass, scale, materiality, form and meaning, context, organic vs. geometric, etc. Students will also be introduced to more contemporary areas of artmaking such as conceptual art, installation, and video and other time based arts. Projects will use both traditional sculptural materials as well as some "non-art" materials. 




For Visual Studies majors or those considering a Visual Studies major, please use either the VLST or non-VLST (PSYC, PHIL, FNAR) number to enroll. Both will be counted the same. 


VLST 301. What is Visual Studies?  

301 SEM R 1:30-4:30pm | Berkowitz.

Prerequisite(s): VLST 101 or Instructor Permission. For VLST Majors, Junior year. 


Visual Studies 301 is a seminar-format course that challenges students to develop independent ideas about how the eye, the mind and the image that is created therein, all work together to inform our conception of the world at large. Rather than present a unified viewpoint, the course asks the question, "What is visual studies?" by examining parallel and sometimes antagonistic approaches to the ways that human beings understand sight and the concept of visuality. Over the course of the semester, students will discuss and write about various approaches to vision, examining this contested field through the lenses of several disciplines -- including psychology, philosophy, and art history. By parsing and assimilating diverse ideas, students will decide for themselves what are the most pertinent and relevant approaches to the various avenues of research that present themselves in the emerging interdisciplinary field of Visual Studies. 


Sector A:


PHIL 32. Philosophy and Cognitive Science. 

301 SEM TR 10:30-12noon | Daoust 

This course counts for Stage 2, Sector A, but may be applied to Stage 3 only by approval of the VLST Director. 


Darwinian evolution is widely endorsed in philosophy and across the cognitive sciences. But how can evolution help us reconcile philosophical theories and experimental results? This course addresses this question by exploring the relationship between philosophical theories, on the one hand; and psychological, biological and neuroscientific evidence, on the other.  In particular, we’ll aim to develop an evolutionarily tenable understanding of the relation between evidence and theory in four core areas of cognitive science: memory, rationality, morality and perception. 


VLST 211/PSYC 111. Perception. 

401 LEC TR 9-10:30am | Burge. 

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector A) major requirements.


The purpose of this course is to provide an overview of the facts and concepts of perception. The course will cover the different human senses and their physiological and perceptual characteristics, and the psychophysical methods used to measure those. Also, it will introduce the computational theories that attempt to describe the fundamental purpose of perception, and show how these theories will help us to not only better understand human perception as such, but ultimately to understand the human brain. 


VLST 221/PHIL244. Philosophy of Mind. 

401 LEC MW 11-12noon | Monk. 

Recitation Required. 

402 REC F 12-1pm | Staff403 REC F 1-2pm | Staff

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector A) major requirements. 


In this course, we will explore philosophical questions concerning the nature of minds. In seeking to understand the nature of minds, philosophers and psychologists have often used metaphors drawn 105

from the forms of technology available to them. Leibniz once described the mind as a mill, while Freud compared the mind to a hydrolytic and electromagnetic system. In our own time, many have followed Alan Turing's proposal and have viewed the mind as a special kind of computer; indeed, this "Computational Theory of Mind" forms the foundation for much work in contemporary cognitive science. In this class, we will explore the extent to which the computational theory of mind can adequately characterize the distinctive capacities involved in representing an external environment and having conscious experiences that is displayed by minds in general and human minds in particular. Although an introductory class in philosophy or logic will aid students' understanding, no prior familiarity with the philosophy of mind or cognitive science will be presumed.


VLST 223/PHIL 423. Color Perception. 

401 SEM MW 2-3:30pm | Connolly. 

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector A) major requirements.


Do colors look differently to housepainters or artists than to the layperson? This course explores the evidence from psychology that colors do look differently to experts. It also examines the philosophical implications that follow from this. We will read literature from philosophy and psychology exploring the nature of color, color perception, and perceptual learning. We will dig deep into evidence from psychology that experience changes one’s color perception (Delk and Fillenbaum, 1965; Goldstone 1995; and Hansen et al., 2006). Along the way, we will address philosophical questions such as how we can arrive at shared knowledge of color, given that our perceptual systems are flexible, and potentially divergent from one another.


Sector B:  


ARTH 102. Renaissance to Contemporary Art. 

401 LEC TR 12-1:30pm | Kim/Shaw. 

Recitation Required.

402 REC T 9:30-10:30am405 REC F 11-12noon

403 REC T 10:30-11:30am406 REC F 12-1pm

404 REC R 2-3pm406 REC T 10:30-11:30am

405 REC R 3-4pm406 REC F 1-2pm

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector B) major requirements.


This course is an introduction to the visual arts including painting, sculpture, print culture, and new media such as photography, film, performance and installation art in Europe and the United States from 1400 to the present. It offers a broad historical overview of the key movements and the artists of the period, as well as an investigation into the crucial themes and contexts that mark visual art production after the middle ages. Such themes include the secularization of art; the (gendered) role of the artist in society; the sites of art production and consumption such as the artist's studio, the royal courts and the art exhibition; the materials of art; the import of technology and science to art's making, content and distribution; the rise of art criticism; and the socio-political contexts of patronage and audience; among others.


VLST 233/ARTH 103. Arts and Civilizations of East Asia. 

401 LEC MW 12-1pm | Davis. 

Recitation Required

402 REC F 10-11am405 REC F 1-2pm

403 REC F 11-12noon406 REC F 2-3pm

404 REC F 12-1pm

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector B) major requirements.


Introduction to major artistic traditions of China and Japan and to the methodological practices of art history. Attention given to key cultural concepts and ways of looking, in such topics as: concepts of the afterlife and its representation; Buddhist arts and iconography; painting styles and subjects; and more broadly at the transmission of styles and cultural practices across East Asia. Serves as an introduction to upper level lecture courses in East Asian art history cultures. If size of class permits, certain sessions will be held in the University Museum or the Philadelphia Museum of Art.


VLST 236/ARTH 294. Art Now. 

401 LEC MW 10-11am | Silverman. 

Recitation Required.  

402 REC R 11-12noon405 REC F 12-1pm

403 REC R 12-1pm406 REC W 2-3pm

404 REC F 11-12noon


This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector B) major requirements.

One of the most striking features of today's art world is the conspicuous place occupied in it by the photographic image. Large-scale color photographs and time-based installations and projections are everywhere. Looking back, we can see that much of the art making of the past 60 years has also been defined by this medium, regardless of the form it takes. Photographic images have inspired countless paintings, appeared in combines and installations, morphed into sculptures, drawings and performances, and served both as the object and the vehicle of institutional critique. They are also an increasingly important exhibition site: where most of us go to see earthworks, happenings and body-art. This course is a three-part exploration of our photographic present.




VLST 250/FNAR 250. Introduction to Printmaking. 

401 STU TR 5-8pm | Blumthal

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements.


The course offers an introduction to several forms of printmaking including: intaglio, screen printing, relief, and monoprinting. Through in-class demonstrations students are introduced to various approaches to making and printing in each medium. The course enhances a student's capacity for developing images through two-dimensional design and conceptual processes. Technical and conceptual skills are developed through discussions and critiques.


VLST 251/FNAR 271. Introduction to Photography. 

401 STU T 9-12noon | Stolfa

402 STU T 1:30-4:30pm | Neighbor

405 STU R 1:30-4:30pm | Martinez 

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements.


This course is an introduction to the basic processes and techniques of black & white photography. Students will learn how to expose and process 35mm film, SLR camera operation, darkroom procedures & printing, basic lighting and controlled applications. It begins with an emphasis on understanding and mastering technical procedures and evolves into an investigation of the creative and expressive possibilities of making images. This is a project-based course, where students will begin to develop their personal vision, their understanding of aesthetic issues and photographic history. Assignments, ideas and important examples of contemporary art will be presented via a series of slide lectures, critiques and discussion. No previous experience necessary. 35mm SLR cameras will be available throughout the semester for reservation and checkout from the photography equipment room.


VLST 252/FNAR 145. Sculpture Practices. 

201 STU MW 2-5pm | Keeling

401 STU TR 9-12pm | Bendtsen

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements. 


As an introduction to traditional and contemporary three-dimensional practice, this course is concerned with the concepts and methodologies surrounding three-dimensional art making in our time. Students experiment with a variety of modes of production, and develop some of the fundamental techniques used in sculpture. In addition to these investigations, assignments relative to the history and social impact of these practices are reinforced through readings and group discussion. Processes covered include use of the Fab Lab, wood construction, clay, paper, mixed media, and more.


VLST 253/ FNAR 123. Drawing I 

201 STU MW 5-8pm | Herynk

401 STU MW 10-1pm | Hornick

402 STU TR 9-12noon | Murphy

403 STU TR 1:30-4:30pm | Murphy

404 STU MW 2-5pm | Talevsky

405 STU TR 4:30-7:30pm | Staff

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements. 


This course is designed to develop visual awareness and perceptual acuity through the process of drawing. Students learn to sharpen perceptual skills through observational drawing, and to explore the expressive potential of drawing. A variety of problems and media will be presented in order to familiarize students with various methods of working and ways of communicating ideas visually. Subject matter will include object study, still life, interior and exterior space, self-portrait and the figure. Different techniques and materials (charcoal, graphite, ink, collage) are explored in order to understand the relationship between means, material and concept. Critical thinking skills are developed through frequent class critiques and through the presentation of and research into historical and contemporary precedent in drawing.


VLST 260/FNAR 150. Photography Practices 

401 STU R 9-12noon | Wahl

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements. 


This course is an introduction to the basic principles, strategies and processes of photographic practice. It is designed to broaden the student's aesthetic explorations and to help the student develop a visual language based on cross-disciplinary artistic practice. Through a series of projects and exercises students will be exposed to a range of camera formats, techniques and encouraged to experiment with the multiple modes and roles of photography - both analogue and digital. Attention will also be given to developing an understanding of critical aesthetic and historical issues in photography. Students will examine a range of historical and contemporary photowork as an essential part of understanding the possibilities of image making.


VLST 261/FNAR 061. Video I

401 SEM M 1-4pm | Novack

402 SEM W 10-1pm | Staff

403 SEM T 4:30-7:30pm | Staff

404 SEM R 1:30-4:30pm | Staff

405 SEM R 9-12noon | Staff

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements.


This course provides students with the introductory skills and concepts related to producing short works that explore the language of the moving image. Students will learn the basics of cinematography and editing through a series of assignments designed to facilitate the use of the medium for artistic inquiry, cultural expression and narrative storytelling, through both individual and group projects. 


VLST 264/FNAR 264. Art, Design and Digital Culture 

401 STU TR 1:30-4:30pm | Staff

402 STU MW 4-7pm | Reifsnyder

403 STU TR 5-8pm | Fledderman

404 STU MW 7-10pm | Fledderman

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements.


This course is an introduction to the fundamental perception, representation, aesthetics, and design that shape today's visual culture. It addresses the way artists and designers create images; design with analog and digital tools; communicate, exchange, and express meaning over broad range of media; and find their voices within the fabric of contemporary art, design, and visual culture. Emphasis is placed on building an extended form of visual literacy by studying and making images using a variety of representation techniques; learning to organize and structure two-dimensional and three-dimensional space, and designing with time-based and procedural media. Students learn to develop an individual style of idea-generation, experimentation, iteration, and critique as part of their creative and critical responses to visual culture. 


VLST 265/FNAR 340. Digital Photography 

401 STU M 10-1pm | Neighbor

402 STU M 1-4pm | Martinez

403 STU T 5-8pm | Ward

404 STU W 5-8pm | Martinez

405 STU W 10-1pm | Rodewald

406 STU W 2-5pm | Neighbor

407 STU F 10-1pm | Stolfa

408 STU W 8-11pm | Stolfa

409 STU F 1-4pm | Ward

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2 or 3, Sector C) major requirements.


This class offers an in-depth technical and conceptual foundation in digital imagery and the opportunity to explore the creative, expressive possibilities of photography. Students will become proficient with the basic use of the camera, techniques of digital capture, color management and color correction. They will also develop competency in scanning, retouching, printing and a variety of manipulation techniques in Photoshop. Through weekly lectures and critiques, students will become familiar with some of the most critical issues of representation, consider examples from photo history, analyze the impact of new technologies and social media. With an emphasis on structured shooting assignments, students are encouraged to experiment, expand their visual vocabulary while refining their technical skills. No previous experience is necessary. Although it is beneficial for students to have their own Digital SLR camera, registered students may reserve and checkout Digital SLR cameras and other high-end equipment from the department. 


FNAR 331/631. Interdisciplinary Studio: Sites of Color, Convergence, and Hybridity

401 STU T/R 1:30-4:30pm | Tileston

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2, Sector C) major requirements.


This course takes an experimental multimedia approach to investigating some of the boundaries in contemporary art making practices.  Painting, photography, video, design and sculpture intersect, overlap, and converge in complicated ways. Projects will be designed to explore hybrid forms, collage, space/ installation, and color through a variety of strategic and conceptual proposals as students work towards unique ways of expanding their own work. Weekly readings, critiques, and presentations will be integrated with studio projects.  

This studio/seminar is appropriate for students at all levels and from all areas of Fine Arts, Visual Studies, and Design with at least one prior semester studio experience.


ARCH102. Visualization I: Representation 

001 LEC R 9-10:30am | Dahlgren

Recitation Required.  

201 REC TR 10:30-12noon203 REC TR 3-4:30pm

202 REC TR 1:30-3pm204 REC TR 4:30-6pm

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2, Sector C) major requirements for students in the ArchPT track only. 


Introduces technical drawing and explores its thematic possibilities, through both an analysis of antecedents and the production of new works. These complementary studies serve both to establish an understanding of representation as the foundation to visual communications and to develop the ability for seeing through drawing. 


ARCH 201. Visualization II: Fabrication 

201 STU TR 1:30-6pm | Bouchehrian

This course may be applied to Visual Studies (Stage 2, Sector C) major requirements for students in the ArchPT track only. 


Continues research into visualization with a special emphasis introducing the fabrication shop, tools and techniques. The capacity of materials, their manipulation and the consequences of their inter-relationships are explored as a fundamental issue in making. Through the analysis of precedents and the production of new works, visualizing these relationships complements drawing with a material imagination and vocabulary. 



Stage 3 course selections in  your sector of concentration should made in consultation with your Sector Adviser and approved by the Visual Studies Program Director.  These course selections are meant to create specialized depth in the chosen area of concentration to complement the breadth offered by the core curriculum. Many of the courses offered but not completed in Stage 2 may be applied to Stage 3, but many courses without VLST cross-listings are also options.


Sector A: Courses in Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Science that have a significant portion of the course related to perception


Sector B: Courses in Cinema Studies, History of Art and Visual Culture (perhaps even in Communications)


Sector C: Courses in Fine Arts and Architecture offered through the School of Design and other design courses 



VLST 395. Senior Project 

301 SEM T 3-4:30pm | Freedman/Verstegen 

Prerequisite(s): Permission of Instructor Required. 


VLST 399. Independent Study



VLST 599. Independent Study