European Identities - Aspects of European Visual Culture

Monika Schwärzler-BrodesserJuly 19 – July 304 ECTS credits


The course will deal with images and visual culture phenomena specifically developed in and for the European context. It will familiarize students with a number of strategies and concepts for delivering messages that come in visual form. The corresponding visuals will be mostly drawn from the field of art, but also from popular culture and the media. While the aesthetic parameters of the presented visuals will be important, the main focus will be on the social practices reflected in these images. Priority will be given to visualizations that are daring, subversive, and play on common and already familiar pictorial codes.


Course objectives:

  • To train and enhance students' visual literacy and turn them into critical readers of visual information, which is becoming increasingly  important in today's communication
  • To make them aware of the codes and genres on which most of today's visuals are based
  • To familiarize them with some of the most influential European players in the field of photography and art


Specific course topics:

  • Staged and digitally enhanced photography and the realities these photos create
  • Visual concepts of commemoration and of dealing with the past
  • Visuals and gender codes / picturing femininity and masculinity
  • Artistic interventions and subversive re-definitions of public space
  • Visual narratives and their parameters
  • Bodies, sculptures, 3-D hybrids as carriers of meaning
  • The design of social activities and engagement


For this course, no specific prior background in art or visual culture is needed. Students with a strong interest in visuals, their aesthetic qualities, and their analytic appeal will find this course stimulating.


Requirements: Attendance and active participation (30% of the grade), final exam on the course material (40%), reading (30%).