Take informed communication beyond language

The Visual Communication Arts Major offers an interdisciplinary course of study, encompassing the fine arts, graphic design, illustration, and photography, as well as courses from Communication and Media Studies, Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, Film Studies, and other disciplines. It focuses on communication and creativity as fundamental elements of human expression and encourages students to think critically about creative expressions within the context of and across cultures, ethnicities, race, and gender.  In this course of study, students focus on the visual arts and will be able to express themselves in a variety of media.   


The program prepares students for entry-level positions in careers of museums, galleries, media, consulting, and the publishing sector.  Students may also choose to pursue fine art or design careers or enter graduate and specialized studies in the arts.

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Visual Communication Arts

The Visual Communication Arts major offers an interdisciplinary course of study, encompassing the fine arts, graphic design, illustration, and photography, as well as courses from Communication and Media Studies, Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, and film studies. It focuses on communication and creativity as fundamental elements of human expression and encourages students to think critically about creative expressions within the context of and across cultures, ethnicities, race, and gender. In this course of study, students focus on the visual arts and will be able to express themselves in a variety of media.

The program prepares students for entry-level positions in careers of museums, galleries, media, consulting, and the publishing sector. Students may also choose to pursue fine art or design careers or enter graduate and specialized studies in the arts.

Major Requirements (42 Credits)

Required Courses (9 Credits)
AHT 102 Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture I: Antiquity to Early Renaissance

The course offers an introduction to the history of art and visual culture from antiquity to the Renaissance. It studies painting, sculpture, architecture, and prints within their historical, social, and cultural contexts, as well as their representation in modern media (film, documentary, etc).

AHT 103 Introduction to Art History and Visual Culture II: High Renaissance to Contemporary Art

The course is the sequel to AHT 102 and offers an introduction to the history of art and visual culture from the High Renaissance to the present day. It studies early modern painting, sculpture, architecture, and prints within their historical, social, and cultural contexts, as well as photography and new media in the modern and contemporary world.

COM 105 Introduction to Communication and Media Studies

This course introduces students to the fundamental concepts and theories of communication and media studies as they apply to the ever-increasing intercultural interactions of a contemporary world. In particular, students will learn the basics of intercultural/international communication processes, gaining a foundation for developing intercultural communication competence.

100-Level Courses (6 Credits)

Two of the following:

STA 105 Introduction to Sculpture

An introductory course intended to develop the students' awareness of the third dimension. The course uses the five platonic solids as a vehicle of discovery of three dimensional space. Beginning with the construction of a ''space frame'' in the form of either a tetrahedron or a cube using wood doweling, the students analyze and describe the space inside the volume without the use of curved lines, using easy manageable materials. The students then move on to consider cylinders, cones and spheres, and work with curves, both simple and complex. They study natural forms that they themselves find and select to work from, starting a new project creating one or more structures from these things, giving them a basic knowledge of working in metal, plexiglas, plaster, clay, wood and glass. (This course carries a nominal fee for art supplies)

STA 106 Introduction to Printmaking

This experimental, introductory course will explore the creative possibilities of media that have often been considered largely mechanical and reproductive processes. Comments on the history of printing will be integrated in lessons on relief and intaglio printing processes (monoprints, linoleum cuts, wood block prints, embossing, drypoint). Visits to museums, exhibits or ateliers may be organized if possible. (This course carries a fee for art supplies.)

STA 107 Introduction to Digital Photography

This course course in digital photography introduces the beginner to the elements of digital photography. There will be two areas of concentration: 1. Image capture and manipulation using digital imaging technology (cameras and editing software). 2. Photograph design (crafting a photograph that reflects the photographer’s intention using composition, framing, lighting etc.). Throughout the course emphasis will be placed on the artistic value of photographs rather than the technicalities of digital imaging. Photography is one of the various artistic media available for self-expression and much emphasis will be put on precisely that. Students will synthesize these elements to create a portfolio of work that reflects not only their newly developed skills but also an appreciation and understanding of photography as an art medium. The course carries a fee for photography/art supplies.

STA 111 Introduction to Drawing

An introductory course aimed at mastering the rudiments of drawing (light and shadow, perspective, proportions, texture, pattern and design) and investigating the discipline of drawing as a cognitive tool. A variety of media, styles and genre will be explored, such as still life, landscape, figure drawing and abstraction. Studio sessions will be integrated with slide presentations and videos, and visits to museums, exhibits or ateliers may be organized if possible. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 112 Introductory Watercolor Techniques

This introductory course will explore basic watercolor painting techniques. Starting with exercises aimed at understanding the nature of the medium, students will then move on to investigate various aspects of watercolor painting (direct methods, tonal and color layering, color theory, sketching and painting en plein air, sources of inspiration). Visits to museums, exhibits or ateliers may be organized if possible. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 114 Drawing Related Media

The course will explore various media related to drawing, like pen and ink, charcoal, colored pencils, felt tip markers, tissue paper and glue, collage, crayons, oil and watercolor pastels, watercolor, tempera, gouache, spray paint. There is virtually no limit to the media that may be employed during the semester. At the same time, the course also reinforces the rudiments of drawing, but with primary emphasis on materials and new media rather than theoretical questions. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 115 Introductory Painting

This introductory course explores basic painting techniques and attempts to assist the development of visual awareness through various experiments and media, thus providing a foundation for further art study. With a combination of theory and studio practice, the course investigates the properties of color, line, point, plane and texture in an effort to free students from dead convention and at the same time encourage their creative abilities. The course will incorporate structured exercises on the nature of paint and the rudiments of color theory, while encouraging students to study the painting of past and present artists to develop their own creative identity. Visits to museums, galleries or ateliers may be organized if possible. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 125 Basic Design

This course is based on the experimentation of basic design exercises belonging to the tradition of schools of design such as the Bauhaus, the School of Design at the IIT, the Hochschule für Gestaltung Ulm. The course aims at developing basic knowledge useful at different scales in the process of education of a designer: theories of color, hierarchy and design of information, symbolization, visual characterization and rhetoric. During the course, notions of history of typography and graphic design, visual semiotics, information design and printing techniques are provided. Aim of the course is to produce a series of 16 pages books and an exhibition to display the results. Teaching is practice based and follows the approach ''learning-by-doing''.

VCA 120T Documentary and Street Photography on Location: Munich

This course will investigate the particularities of both documentary and street photography through readings and studio projects. It will shed light on the history of photography; how the visual world communicates, studying the interaction of photography with other visual media; and will pay specific attention to the semiotic potential and challenges of photography. Students will engage in a project that relates to the location of the travel component of the class, documenting a subject of their choice. The Academic Travel destination will be Munich with additional day excursions to Bavaria and Austria.

200-Level Courses (9 Credits)

Three of the following:

STA 200 Computer Graphics in Advertising

An introductory course to graphic design software and to the principles and practices of advertising graphics. Once the basics have been learned, the course covers the following aspects of graphic design: the psychology of advertising, the brief from the client and the working relationship between client and designer, font styles and typographic design, the company logo, letterhead, business cards etc., house-styling, company reports, brochures, flyers, book covers, color printing and printing processes. The course requires that initial design concepts be taken from the early stages through to finished art-work, i.e. the quality of finish required for presentation to the client.(This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies)

STA 205 Intermediate Sculpture

Continued exploration of basic sculptural methods, the students choose something that has particularly caught and absorbed their interest from the information touched on in the introductory course. They select a major project and investigate this chosen area much more thoroughly, developing a more substantial awareness along with more technical proficiency regarding materials. They can choose to construct, carve, or model and cast, and either to work from a personal idea or, if they prefer, using a model, they can make a portrait head and cast it in plaster: the stage at which it could be realized in bronze by a foundry. Students will be encouraged to visit exhibitions and become aware of both historical and current tendencies in art. (This course carries a nominal fee for art supplies)

STA 206 Intermediate Printmaking

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic printing skills learned in STA 106. More techniques of printmaking may be explored, for example, silkscreen or collagraph. (This course carries a fee for art supplies.)

STA 207 Intermediate Digital Photography

A more intermediate course where students who have completed STA 107 may take their work further. The course carries a fee for photography/art supplies.

STA 211 Intermediate Drawing

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 111. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects, exploring various media and investigating problems in drawing and perception. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 212 Intermediate Watercolor Techniques

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 112. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects and exploring watercolor-related media. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 214 Drawing Related Media

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 114. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 215 Intermediate Painting

Intermediate course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 115. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects and exploring different media and genre as students work towards finding a personal identity through creative experience. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 220 Heads and Bodies: the Human Head and Proportions in Art History, Theory and Practice

The human head is one of the most fascinating subjects in the history of art, and frequently perceived as one of the most difficult problems to tackle. The head is the basic unit of human proportions, and the key to human identity. This course will investigate the human head and human proportions in art - in painting and sculpture; in all periods and cultures. Through lectures and presentations, visits to museums or other places of interest and studio sessions, students will have the opportunity to study this subject in depth and to experiment with it using various techniques in the studio. Studio sessions and lectures will deal with the following topics: 1. Human proportions: fundamental concepts. 2. Ideal canons in the Western European tradition. 2.1 The head as basic unit. 2.2 Famous canons: the Golden Ratio, Polykleitos, Praxiteles, Vitruvian man, Leonardo, Le Corbusier. 2.3 Alignment of facial features: likeness. 2.4 Men, women and children; the ages of man. 2.5 Larger than life: comics and caricature. 2.6 The twentieth century. 3. Non-Western Ideals. 4. Beyond art and aesthetics: medicine, forensics and other applications. Studio assignments will be organized in the following media: drawing and related media, painting, clay modeling. Class sessions may involve trips off-campus to an exhibition or event. There is a course fee to cover materials and travel expenses.

STA 235 Sustainability and the Studio

Over the past few decades, sustainability has become a movement in the visual arts, shifting from a purely ecological to a larger cultural context and covering a vast range of ecological, economic, political, moral and ethical concerns. Sustainable art is usually distinguished from earlier movements like environmental art in that it advocates issues in sustainability, like ecology, social justice, non-violence and grassroots democracy. This studio course will approach sustainability and artistic practice from a number of viewpoints and modes of working. After a general introduction to sustainability in the arts today through lectures, videos and discussions, students will do creative projects, presentations and papers on current social issues or environmental concerns, the use of sustainable materials, recycling materials, community outreach, local environmental and sustainability initiatives). Class sessions may involve trips off-campus to an exhibition or event. There is a course fee to cover materials and travel expenses.

STA 275T Studies in Ceramics: Northern and Central Italy

This introductory ceramics course combines art history and studio work with an intensive travel period in northern and central Italy. Students will be given the opportunity to understand the complete process of producing objects in clay and terracotta, from the first planning/designing phases, through the basic modeling techniques, to the more complicated processes of firing and glazing. Studio sessions both on and off campus will incorporate lectures on artists and art movements, as well as visits to local venues, major museums and other sites of importance with regard to the use of clay and terracotta in the fine arts. The on-campus lectures aim to provide students with an understanding of the importance of northern and central Italy for the history of ceramics from the age of the Etruscans to the present day. All students will have the opportunity to do in-depth, intensive work in clay modeling, hand-built ceramics and glazing techniques. The first part of the course will focus on the functional aspects of the terracotta object, while the second will introduce terracotta as sculpture.

STA 280T Adventures in Printmaking

This experimental, introductory course will explore the creative possibilities of media which have largely been considered mechanical, reproductive processes. Brief introductory lectures will introduce and demonstrate the following techniques: simple printing methods that do not use the printing press (direct stamping, stenciling, monotype, frottage); relief printing methods using linoleum, wood blocks and other surfaces; intaglio techniques (dry point). As time permits, collograph and silkscreen printing will also be introduced. The course has the following goals: to gain knowledge of printing materials, equipment and techniques; to produce prints using the techniques introduced during the course; to understand printing techniques in an art historical perspective and acknowledge of printing as a fine art; to construct a basic art vocabulary and develop the skills necessary to critical visual analysis. The course travels alternately to Urbino in Central Italy and to Lódz, Poland, to participate in the PATA summer workshops at the Strzeminski Academy of Art.

Upper-Level Courses (6 Credits)

Two of the following:

STA 300 Computer Graphics in Advertising, Advanced

This course is fundamentally a follow-on from STA 200, Computer Graphics in Advertising. Throughout the semester, students are expected to complete a broad variety of projects, individually and in form of group work, and bring them to a finished state. Possible areas of concentration may include digital branding, interaction design, digital formats, innovative design, campaign design and corporate promotion. (This course carries a nominal fee for computer supplies).

STA 305 Higher Sculpture

The level of this course presupposes that students have already acquired some knowledge of historic and current tendencies in art which they will consider in relation to their own semester’s work. The project (or projects) undertaken will be a continued exploration of sculptural methods using both additive and subtractive techniques aimed at producing well-conceived three dimensional works and experimentation with diverse materials. This course carries a fee for art supplies

STA 306 Advanced Printmaking

A higher course aimed at further developing the basic printing skills learned in STA 206. Emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects, and more techniques of printmaking may be explored, for example, silkscreen or collagraph. (This course carries a fee for art supplies.)

STA 307 Advanced Digital Photography

A more advanced course where students who have completed STA 207 may take their work further. The course carries a fee for photography/art supplies.

STA 311 Advanced Drawing

A higher course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 211. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects, exploring various media and investigating drawing and perception. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 312 Advanced Watercolor Painting

A higher course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 212. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects and exploring watercolor-related media. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 314 Drawing Related Media

A higher course aimed at further developing the basic skills learned in STA 114. More emphasis will be placed on developing individual projects. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 315 Higher Painting

Continuation of the previous painting courses to more advanced levels. The course carries a fee for art supplies.

STA 330T Umbria: A Warm Refuge for Inspiration: Art, Music and Life in Umbria, the Heart of Italy

The best time to travel in Umbria is July, when everything that this distinctive territory of art and culture has to offer can be most fully appreciated: two internationally renowned music festivals, Umbria Jazz in Perugia and the Festival dei Due Mondi in Spoleto, the outdoors through an excursion in the Sibylline mountains, a hike along the Franciscan trail between Spoleto and Assisi or a bike ride through vestiges of ancient Rome around Campello di Clitunno, local festivals celebrating Italian food and local traditions, and last but not least, art from the age of the Etruscans (Perugia, Orvieto) through the contemporary era (architecture by Fuksas, the Burri Foundation, CIAC in Foligno, Arnaldo Pomodoro’s Carapace ‘living sculpture’ winery at Montefalco. All of this and much more can be experienced in the best way – by being there. Finally, students will have the opportunity to live art fully by learning basic techniques of ceramics during a stay at a sculptor’s home and studio at La Fratta Art House, near Deruta. After a week in Lugano, with introductory lectures and films on the region and its traditions, art and music, the next 2½ weeks will be spent in Umbria, alternating attendance at scheduled concerts and performances at Umbria Jazz and the Spoleto Festival with visits to nearby towns and villages to see art, architecture, museums and monuments, engage in outdoor activities or visit local industries (wine, olive oil, chocolate, ceramics). After Spoleto and Perugia, the group will move to La Fratta Art House, where they will live with an Italian artist’s family. Most of this part of the course will be dedicated to learning basic techniques of handbuilding and clay modeling. Many of the lessons will be conducted in Italian (with a translator) so the trip will have a high component of language immersion, and the stay at La Fratta Art House will be total immersion in Italian language and culture.

STA 331T Umbria: Sustaining Art in the Heart of Italy

The region of Umbria stakes its reputation on ‘slow living’ and sustainability. Located in the center of Italy, and also known as its ‘green heart’, it has one of the highest pro capita percentages of UNESCO World Heritage sites in the world. Preserving this heritage and continuing to keep age-old traditions alive have contributed to making sustainability a way of life, as in the title of the overview of 20 years of EU research into cultural heritage, ''Preserving Our Heritage; Improving Our Environment''. This course will provide a unique opportunity for students to study the area on site, concentrating on different ways in which this challenge has or has not been met, ranging from world famous performing arts festivals to ventures in sustainable living. At the same time, the course features an intensive arts experience through visits to art cities, museums, areas of natural beauty, enological and gastronomical firms, as well as attendance at local seasonal fairs and festivals of music and the performing arts. There is a studio component of the course: STA 331T will be taken together with STA115/215/315 Painting, which will focus on projects and techniques particularly suited to sustainability themes.

VCA 200 The Arts of Independent Publication

In an increasingly digital age, books have experienced a renaissance as a privileged channel of independent creative expression. This course takes this resurgence as a starting point to investigate the historical forms and contemporary opportunities offered by the book medium to artists, writers and activists. First, students will be introduced to the history of the printing revolution in Europe, the development of typography and their impact on intellectual and political history. Second, the course will look at the production of artists’ books in the 19th and 20th century, in parallel with the advent of modernity, where numbered editions signalled a printing alternative to the rise of mass culture. Third, a strong emphasis is placed on exploring a range of models and opportunities offered by contemporary independent publishing. In that vein, the course will consider both material and virtual channels, taking into account the surge of digital technologies and their implications in both the return to the book as a physical object, and the connections the latter nurtures with its electronic parent. Students will look at the aesthetic, social and political remit of contemporary publishing practices, and will be asked to develop a personal publishing project. Recommended prerequisite: AHT 102 or AHT 103 or LC 100 or COM 201

VCA 370 Topics in Visual Communication Arts

Topics in Visual Communication Arts are advanced courses on specific topics not normally offered and vary each semester. They may require additional pre-requisites or permission of the instructor. Course description and pre-requisites are specified in the session course description.

STA 330T: Ceramics, Mandala and Land Art, New Media

Major Electives (9 Credits)

Three of the following, with at least one at the 300-level:

AHT XXX Any course in Art History
BUS 285 Integrated Marketing Communications

This course exposes students to an integrated, global approach of two-way communication with consumers, customers and suppliers, and other stakeholders of companies and organizations. Students explore the communications process that is essential in contemporary global business cultures. Media options are explored for a range of target audiences. Discussions on the use of advertising, public relations, sales promotions, internet promotion, direct marketing and other techniques will be included. It takes a contemporary approach to the field of integrated marketing communications, highlighting how recent changes and rapid changes in the family, business environment, technology and the world in general are forcing communications specialists and advertisers to make major changes in the way they reach their markets. The course will draw on knowledge in fields such as psychology, sociology and anthropology, as well as media studies and communications.

CLCS 110 Reading Cultures: Approaches to Cultural Studies

This course has two primary goals: to introduce students to the history and theoretical writings of various strands of cultural studies, and to acquaint them with some of the intersecting axes - race, class and gender - that energize the field. Close attention will be paid to issues such as the shaping of identity, forms of representation, the production, consumption and distribution of cultural goods, and the construction of knowledge and power in a host of cultural practices and cultural institutions.

CLCS 220 Inventing the Past: The Uses of Memory in a Changing World

The construction of memory is one of the fundamental processes by which the workings of culture can be studied. Every country, every culture and every community has a specific memory culture that finds expression in a congruence of texts: of literature and film, of law and politics, of memorial rituals, and historiography. The aim of this course is to enable students to recognize different forms of the construction, representation and archiving of memory; to analyze processes of individual and collective identity formation through memory; and to understand the power differentials operant in the negotiations and performance of a national memory.

CLCS 230 Science / Fiction: Envisioning the Possible

Science fiction narratives may be defined as speculative fictions, ideal allegorical vehicles eliciting theoretical reflection on the state of contemporary culture and society and motivating social reform. As such, the main objective of this course is to consider several major contemporary socio-cultural issues through the unique lens provided by writers and filmmakers of the science-fiction tradition. The issues, allowing for variances from year to year, will include questions regarding gender and Otherness, the hypothesized deterioration of a human-world bond, modern apocalyptic anxieties, genetic engineering, intersections of ideology and communication technologies. Authors and filmmakers may include: Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov, Philip K. Dick, Ursula Le Guinn, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell, William Gibson; Ridley Scott, Stanley Kubrick, Andrew Niccol, Jean-Luc Godard, Lana and Andy Wachowski

CLCS 245 Critical Approaches to the Graphic Novel: Justice in the Gutter

This interdisciplinary course will explore the theme of justice through the medium of the graphic novel. Although the battle between 'good' and 'evil' has been a mainstay of comic books for many generations, the emergence of the graphic novel as a recognized and serious artistic and literary medium has also problematized the theme of justice and its many variants, whether environmental, social, sexual, gendered, or racial. This course takes a serious look at how the graphic novel tells stories about justice. It explores the rhetorical, visual and semiotic strategies authors are using to tell those stories, considers critical approaches to the graphic novel as a medium, and studies the reception of graphic novels about justice in comparison with other media.

CLCS 250 Ecocritical Approaches to Film

This course approaches film from an ecocritical perspective to explore how the medium of film articulates relations between the environment and human rights. In recent decades, scholars have increasingly examined how film represents ecological issues and humans' involvement with those issues, particularly with regards to environmental disaster and climate change. The course aims to make students familiar with those debates by examining a variety of film genres -- blockbuster, documentary, animation, among others -- to offer a survey in reading film ecocritically, from a human rights’ perspective. Students will gain experience in analyzing films as texts and in applying ecocritical theory to those films and the ethical issues surrounding them, from production to narrative, and distribution to reception. Screenings, theoretical readings, class discussion, video-making and writing assignments will help students develop a critical awareness of how film tells the story of our complex relation with the environment against the backdrop of contemporary human rights regimes.

CLCS 300 Masculinities in Literature and Film

This course offers an overview of different masculinities as they have been represented in literature and film for the past couple decades. Students will first explore the recent developments in masculinity studies, particularly focusing on masculinity along intersectional lines. They will reflect upon the intricate ways of defining, theorizing and conceptualizing masculinity in an age that Zygmunt Bauman has defined as liquid. They will read novels such as Tomboy by French writer Nina Bouraoui, Salvation Army by Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa and watch films such as Death Proof by American film director Quentin Tarentino, Facing Mirrors by Iranian film director Negar Azarbayjani, Boys Don't Cry by American film director Kimberly Peirce.

CLCS 340 Fashion and Visual Culture

The focus of postmodernity on surface phenomena and diversity, its concern with the personal, the subjective and with identity have worked to make fashion a field of studies that has gained importance in the last 15 years. Aiming at getting past the age-old belief in the essential frivolity of fashion, this course examines how fashion draws upon recurrent instabilities of men and women (masculinity vs femininity, youth vs elderliness, domesticity vs worldliness, inclusion vs exclusion etc...) to thrive and express its creativity, how its ever constant shifting nature results in the notions of gender, ethnicity and class status to be ever more fluid, how it has been redefining the body and its image, in particular with the advent of the supermodel in the eighties, and last but not least, how it relates to and signifies within so many aspects of our daily life and environment, whether it be space (work vs domesticity, urban vs non-urban), photography (static vs dynamic), music (alternative vs pop) and sexuality.

CLCS 350 Culture and Human Rights

''Human Rights'' has become a key selling point for organizations, political parties and social movements. And yet what is actually meant by the term often remains vague, and it is difficult to take the critical stance necessary to judge its significance. In this class we interrogate the term with a series of questions: what counts as ''human'' in the discourses surrounding Human Rights? What sorts of rights do individuals in fact have simply by virtue of being human? Do all humans have the same rights? Who gets to decide this? How has the definition changed over the last 200 years? To what extent is the term gendered, determined by class and racialized? And finally: how do different national settings change how we think about and act on ideas of Human Rights? This course will examine these questions by tracing ideas surrounding Human Rights in treatises, literary texts, films, debates and case studies from the Enlightenment to the present. Against the backdrop of foundational texts such as The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Thomas Paine's The Rights of Man, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Vindication of the Rights of Woman, declarations by the European Court of Human Rights, the African Court on Human and People's Rights, the Geneva convention and the United Nations Human Rights Commission students will consider literary and filmic works that grapple critically with the terms they lay out. Students will also consider how NGOs such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch translate the political rhetoric to apply their own interpretations of Human Rights to their field work.

CLCS 360 Critical Race Studies in a Global Context

In this course, the class will work to create a more critical understanding of what race is, what race does, and how contemporary racial meanings are constructed and disseminated. In order to do so, students will explore Critical Race Theory (CRT) and critical theories of race in several contexts. CRT refers to a theory that emerged among legal educators in the US in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last twenty years, a growing number of scholars in fields such as cultural studies, gender studies, history, media studies, politics, postcolonial studies and sociology have integrated and developed the work done by critical race theorists. This course will focus in particular on this interdisciplinary approach to critical race studies. The practice of race will be examined as well as the policies and institutions that shape race in a global context in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Finally, students will consider the intersection of race and other social hierarchies, including gender, sexuality and social class.

CLCS 371 Law and Culture

This course aims to investigate law's place in culture and culture's place in law. This focus proceeds from the realization that law does not function in a vacuum but exerts a powerful influence on all manner of cultural practice and production, even as its own operation is influenced in turn by various forms of culture. Given this increasing porosity and interpermeability of Law and different forms of culture, the focus of this course is on the mutual influence between law and other discursive practices, such as literature, TV sit-coms and film. In studying a number of prominent legal cases such as Brown v the Board of Education, we will explore the following questions: What are the mechanisms by which popular representations and cultural practices find their way into legal processes and decisions? How does law in turn bleed into and influence cultural processes? Does law act as a buffer against societal assumptions about, and constructions of, gender, age, ability, sexuality and ethnicity, or does it re-enforce and re-inscribe existing social norms?

CLCS 372 Tales of Catastrophe

The cultural debris that results from political and natural catastrophes is made up of narratives that contain both implosion and creation, wreckage and renewal. In that sense disasters mark pivotal turning points in the way we conceptualize and understand human phenomena and cultural processes in a number of disciplinary perspectives from psychoanalysis to literature, from environmental science to religion and from ethics to aesthetics. Students will read the narrative fallout in fiction, science, and film that emanate from distinct disaster zones ranging from the petrified texture of Pompeii to the generative force field of ground zero.

COM 201 Fundamentals of Media Studies and Criticism

Media pervades our social and private lives. We make it and in turn it makes us. This course offers an introduction to media studies, a field which seeks to understand and use media in complex and intentional ways. The course explores media as content, as an industry and as a social force. In this way, media is understood as both as an artifact (constituted by many parts) and as a set of complex processes (including production, distribution, regulation and consumption). Students will learn key vocabularies and concepts in and approaches to media studies that will help them to define, describe, and critique media artifacts and processes in a variety of written and spoken formats. In addition to equipping students with the skills to understand and critique media, this course encourages and provides students with the building blocks to produce media content. Students who successfully complete this course will be prepared to take advanced courses in media studies.

COM 202 Fundamentals of Interpersonal Communication

This course introduces students to theories, concepts, and research in the study of interpersonal communication. From a scholarly perspective, students will gain a fundamental knowledge of how interpersonal communication processes work. In addition, students will develop skill in analyzing the interpersonal communication that surrounds them in their everyday life. (COM 105 recommended)

COM 225T Technologized Bodies: Mobile ICTs in the City

Mobile information and communication technologies (ICTs) have become an essential part of our everyday social interactions. It was more than a decade ago that researchers started to look into the way the mobile phone penetrates both public and private domains including the body. As mobile ICTs continue to evolve, their impact on our everyday communication requires constant examination. This course takes a city as a site to explore the way human bodies are technologized with mobile ICTs. It will discuss how people see and document their everyday life of the city with mobile ICTs as well as how they are seen with mobile ICTs in the city (e.g., enhanced capacity of the ''natural'' human body such as eyes and brain). In light of the recent development of wearable technologies and sociable robotics, the course will also explore the role that such emerging technologies play now and in the near future. Both seminal and recent work on mobile ICTs, fashion, social robotics, and emotions will provide the theoretical base for the course. Field observations during the academic travel period will be a primary methodological approach to explore relevant issues of the technologized body in the city

COM 230T Communication, Fashion, and the Formation of Taste (Italy)

The sense of taste, whether it refers to the metaphorical sense of taste (aesthetic discrimination) or the literal sense of taste (gustatory taste), is a fundamental part of human experiences. This Academic Travel course examines various ways that communication processes shape our sense of taste in the contemporary society. It will explore topics such as the taste for food, clothing and accessories, music, and other cultural activities applying key theories and concepts of communication, fashion, and taste. Ultimately, the course seeks to develop an understanding of how interpersonal, intercultural, and mediated communication in our everyday life plays a critical role in the formation of individual taste as well as collective taste. In order to achieve this objective, field observations and site visits will be planned during the Academic Travel period.

COM 295 Media Consumption, Fashion, and Identity

This course examines how people, particularly young people, consume media technologies and their contents in contemporary media-saturated life. Employing essential readings on media consumption, fashion, and identity as the theoretical backbone, students will engage in active site-based research project throughout the course. By offering an opportunity to undertake a field study in Milan, the course seeks to develop in-depth theoretical knowledge of the intersections of media consumption, fashion, and identity, as well as to cultivate critical reflection of students’ own consumption of media technologies. (Additional fee: 250 chf for transportation and related activities in Milan)

COM 301 Globalization and Media

This course examines media in the context of globalization. Most broadly, students will explore what constitutes globalization, how globalization has been facilitated and articulated by media, how media have been shaped by the processes of globalization, and perhaps most significantly, the social implications of these complex and varied processes on politics, international relations, advocacy and cultural flows. In order to map this terrain, students will survey the major theories that constitute this dynamic area of study.

COM 302 Intercultural Communication: Theory, Research, and Practice

This course examines intercultural communication theories and research in order to gain a deeper understanding of critical issues we encounter in intercultural interactions. It seeks not only to develop a sophisticated level of intercultural communication competence but also to cultivate the skills of putting the knowledge into practice (e.g., conducting intercultural communication workshops, publishing articles that raise cultural awareness of a target audience, and so on).

COM 327 Producing Digital Media: Communication and Media in Practice

This course explores the impacts and capacities of new media technologies in producing social worlds and advocating social issues. Following an exploration of the key concepts in new media theory, students in this course will spend the bulk of the semester producing a digital short story about an issue of social interest. As a course in applied media and communication, students will have a hand in the entire process of producing, marketing, and showing the film.

COM 330 The Digital Innovation and Media Strategies for a New Consumer Culture

Digital communication has been fundamental in today’s organizational, cultural, and consuming areas. With the continuous technological development, we have been witnessing the surge of digital innovations in recent years. This course examines key dimensions of digital innovations in the current consumer culture such as Internet of Things (IoT), Augmented Reality (AR), Geographical Referencing System, Review & Ratings algorithm, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, BOT and chatbot. The course explores not only the new brand and media strategies of companies but also self-branding strategies of operators, influencers and users/consumers with a special attention to the creative dimension of consumption experience. In this process, the differences between cross-media communication and trans-media storytelling will be discussed as these two strategies help organizations manage relationships between brand, product and consumers by the means of emerging media. Ultimately, students will develop a greater understanding of media strategies using digital innovations that can be applied in the professional context. (This course also applies as an elective in the Fashion Studies major.)

COM 347 Organizational Communication

This course examines the dynamic process of organizational communication. Situating communication as an essential part of ''organizing'' in our everyday life, it seeks to understand how we can participate in the creation and recreation of effective organizations. Students will learn key issues of organizational communication research such as communication channels, networks, organizational climate, interpersonal relationships within organizations, and organizational cultures. They will also learn how to apply the theoretical/conceptual knowledge to their present and future organizational life through case studies and communication audits.

COM 352 Environmental Discourses

This course examines the distinct modes of representation that have come to color how we think and act upon the natural world. Given the increasing importance of the environment in local, national, and global politics, this course is invested in helping students understand the significance of language in creating, defining, mitigating, and negotiating environmental issues and controversies. During the course of the semester, students will investigate (1) the socio-cultural history of environmental discourse, (2) the dominant discursive constructions of the environment, (3) the implications of these on, and the status of, contemporary environmental politics and advocacy, and (4) the importance of studying environmental discourse from a cross-cultural perspective. In order to explore the ideologies and attitudes at the heart of varying environmental discourses, students will analyze texts from various disciplines and spheres (e.g. political, scientific, activist, and popular), genres (e.g. films, books, newspaper articles, image events, policy briefs, and speeches) and rhetorical strategies (e.g. metaphors, tropes, and ideographs).

FRE 374 Introduction to French Cinema

The course examines French films from Jean Vigo's Zero de conduite (1933) to Robert Bresson's Un condamne a mort s'est echappe (1956). It explores the art of cinematography while considering the aesthetics, historical, political, sociological, and psychoanalytical frames within which each movie was realized. It furthermore provides students with analytical tools to enable them to develop their own personal approach when viewing, discussing, and writing about a film.

FRE 376 French Cinema: The New Wave

The French New Wave was a major turning-point in the history of French Cinema. It gave birth to a new way of approaching cinematography as a whole. This course centers on New Wave film directors Chabrol, Truffaut, Resnais, Godard and Varda, and examine closely their cinematographic creed, theoretical preoccupations, similarities and differences. Movies will be partially watched outside of class.

GER 373 German Film as Medium of Culture

This course examines important issues in the cultural life of Germany through the medium of film, to which the German contribution has been foundational and continuously innovative. Texts are included to provide background, context or a look at parallel literary expression.

ITA 373 Italian Film and Society

Aspects of political, social and cultural history of twentieth century Italy are studied through documentaries and some of the major accomplishments of Italian cinema. Some novels adapted into film are also examined. Most of the films are in Italian (some with English subtitles).

ITA 374 Italian Cinema

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the major accomplishments of Italian cinema from ''neorealism'' through the ''commedia all'italiana'' to the present. Emphasis is placed on film as an artistic, aesthetic and theoretical medium for an exploration and interpretation of issues related to contemporary life. Some of Italy's major film directors will be considered, such as Rossellini, De Sica, Visconti, Antonioni, the Taviani brothers, Scola. Particular attention is dedicated to the films of Fellini.

ITA 375 Italian Film Adaptation: From the Page to the Screen

The course introduces the student to the development of Italian cinema through close study of the relationship between Italian literature and film adaptation. The selected books and films will offer a unique opportunity to analyze and discuss crucial issues related to the historical, political, and cultural evolution of Italy from its Unification to the present. Among the adaptations we will be looking at will be: Antonio Fogazzaro's Malombra as interpreted by Carmine Gallone (1917) and Mario Soldati (1942), Luchino Visconti's 1963 rendering of Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa's The Leopard, Vittorio De Sica's 1970 adaptation of Giorgio Bassani's The Garden of the Finzi-Contini, Alberto Moravia's The Conformist, as adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci (1970), Giovanni Boccaccio's Decameron, adapted by Pier Paolo Pasolini (1971).

MUS 206 Music History From Mozart to Mahler; Classicism, Romanticism, Modernism

This introductory course presents three significant historical periods, based upon the works of their most important composers – from Haydn and Mozart to Mahler and Stravinsky. It explains the various genres from chamber music and symphonic music to opera. Combining guided listening, live performances and technology, the course explores the multitude of styles of the different epochs. It also presents at each stage the cultural and political contexts in which music evolved.

MUS 213 Classical Music in Film

The purpose of the course is to explore and understand the use of classical music in art movies. From Bach to Mahler and from D. W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation to Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey, classical music has been used as leitmotiv and supporting narrative in film. Based on the chronology of music history and the use of classical music in period movies, the course analyzes the way in which specific pieces of music have contributed to some of the greatest films of the past. Musical and film extracts will be viewed and discussed.

MUS 216 A History of Opera: From Orpheus to West Side Story

The evolution of the music drama from the Renaissance to the twentieth century is the object of this course.Its objective is to familiarize students with opera as a unique art form. It contributes to enlarge the cultural horizon through a historic perspective from its origins to present day, overcoming the largely diffused pre-concept that opera is only for connoisseurs. Based on extensive listenings and discussions, the course emphasizes the musical and theatrical aspects of opera history, as well as its literary, architectural and political context. Students will learn the essential elements needed to attend a performance, the variety of singing voices and the complexity of preparation and staging of an opera. It encourages students to comparative listening of different versions.

MUS 217 Masterpieces of Western Classical Music

Based on classical music milestones, from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons to Stravinsky's Rite of Spring, the course provides the students with the basic elements needed in order to learn active listening and to develop critical and comparative skills. It explains the various genres from symphonic music to opera, offering the students the tools to better understand the various idioms in Western music, and the historical and cultural context of their creation. The use of the ''great works'' will also create a cultural portfolio for students and introduce them to the debates related to the character and purposes of music, as well as to its chronological evolution.

MUS 218 Music and Politics: From the French Revolution to Communism

This course explores the direct relationship between significant historical events and their effects on musical creation. The analysis of specific works will offer the opportunity to understand the direct impact politics has on art. Important events throughout the 19th and the 20th century will be presented through the impact they had in music history. A special section is dedicated to censorship and discrimination focusing on music written and performed under totalitarian rule. From the Entartete Musik (degenerate music), discriminated against by the Nazis, to John Adams’ opera Nixon in China, which marked the end of Mao’s Cultural Revolution, the course investigates the way in which music was able to follow its own creative path.

Note: Prerequisites may be required for courses outside of the major.

Senior Capstone (3 Credits)

One of the following:

VCA 495 Senior Project in Visual Communication Arts

Senior projects are to be coordinated with the faculty advisor and the Division Chair. The course carries a fee for studio/photography supplies.

VCA 497 Visual Communication Arts Internship

Internships are to be coordinated in advance with the faculty advisor and the Division Chair.

VCA 499 Visual Communication Arts Thesis

VCA thesis proposals to be coordinated with the Division Chair and the faculty advisor.


Professor, Art History and Visual Communication

Ph.D. (with distinction) Columbia University
M.Phil. Columbia University
M.A. Columbia University
B.A. University of Toronto
Interior Design Diploma, International Academy of Design
Foundations in Design Thinking Certificate, IDEO-U
Advanced Design Thinking Certificate, IDEO-U

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 14
Phone: +41 91 986 36 64
Email: jfassl@fus.edu

Johanna Fassl

Associate Professor, Art History and Visual Communication

Ph.D. Université Paris X
M.A. Université Paris X
B.A. Université Paris X

Office: Lowerre Academic Center, Office 15
Phone: +41 91 986 36 51
Email: ggee@fus.edu

Gabriel Gee

Instructor, Art History and Studio Art

Ph.D. The University of Chicago, USA
M.A. The University of Chicago, USA
B.F.A. The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA
Dottore, Istituto Universitario di Lingue Moderne, Feltre (BL), Italy
Diploma Conservatorio di Novara, Italy

Office: Kaletsch Campus, Graduate Studies
Phone: +41 91 985 22 69
Email: czdanski@fus.edu

Clarice Zdanski