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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Social and Political Science : Postgrad (School of Social and Political Studies)

Postgraduate Course: Pictures: The Anthropology of Images and Mediation (PGSP11500)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Social and Political Science CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryHow to understand the pictures that surround us and by which we live? This course will teach students the skills to understand and analyse pictures as more than a mirror of a reality that exists outside of images and their media. The course explores visual and media anthropology literature, plus texts from art history, cultural studies, philosophy and media studies, as well as investigate image making practices and (audio)visual artefacts, to understand how pictures make the world in which we live.
Course description This course teaches how to think about pictures and media through approaches in anthropology that sit between the social sciences and humanities. Students read key text in the tradition and familiarise themselves with audio-visual means of expressing ideas.

There are two core objectives. First, this course aims to equip students with an understanding of images and processes of mediation as these have been developed and used within anthropology. Through a series of lectures, the course introduces students to classic and new texts in visual and media anthropology involving investigation of image practices and (audio)visual artefacts with readings from across an interdisciplinary arena of recent writing in media studies, critical theory and art history. As such, the course is designed to show how the thinking in the fields of media and visual anthropology has emerged out of an interdisciplinary terrain that it continues to contribute to. By the end of the course, students will be familiar with the key thinkers, theoretical debates and concepts that have shaped visual and media anthropology. They will be able to critically engage with these debates, position themselves within those debates and use them to articulate their own perspective on the works produced within the fields of visual and media anthropology.

The second objective of this course is to familiarise students with the audio-visual means of representing anthropological knowledge. Ethnography is approached as not only written text but also other forms of mediating anthropological insight. This is achieved through a series of hands-on, non-assessed assignments. Through these, students will gain an understanding of how they can use everyday media technologies to produce and represent anthropological ideas and insights. Students look at still and moving images, soundscapes and exhibitions, editing software and modes of exhibiting to familiarise themselves with the arsenal of techniques that allow them to make well-formed anthropological comment.

Students learning experience will combine lectures, small group discussion, media practice exercises and essay writing. The course will also include class trips to museums and galleries in Edinburgh.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Critically understand and analyse the principle theories and concepts within the field of media anthropology, including a critical understanding of images and processes of mediation from within an anthropological framework;
  2. Demonstrate excellent familiarity with the key thinkers, theoretical debates and concepts that have shaped visual and media anthropology;
  3. Use critical analysis to suggest issues and concerns at the forefront of media anthropological research;
  4. Demonstrate critical awareness of current issues in media anthropology;
  5. Communicate insightfully about audio-visual media for both academic and non-academic audiences.
Reading List
Coleman, Gabriella. 2017. From Internet Farming to Weapons of the Geek. Current Anthropology 58: S15, S91-S102.

Eisenlohr, Patrick. 2011. What is a medium? Theologies, technologies and aspirations. Social Anthropology 19(1): 1-5.

Ginsburg, Faye, Lila Abu-Lughod and Brian Larkin (eds). 2002. Media Worlds: Anthropology on New Terrain. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. Pp. 1-36.

Hoek, Lotte. 2014. Cut-Pieces: Celluloid Obscenity and Popular Cinema in Bangladesh. New York: Columbia University Press.

Larkin, Brian. Signal and Noise: Media, Infrastructure and Urban Culture in Nigeria. Durham: Duke University Press.

Mitchell, W.J.T. 2005. What do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, students will be equipped with new skills in:

Creative thinking and critical reflection

Capacity to Synthesise and analyse empirical and theoretical materials from a variety of sources, with particular emphasis on lateral thinking.

Informed understanding of media and digital environments

Capacity to critical analyse image landscapes and media worlds

Familiarity with basic sound and image editors

Practical knowledge of and skills in producing audio-visual artefacts

Developing and evaluating arguments that take different kinds of social complexity into account.

Exercising informed independent thought and critical judgment
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Lotte Hoek
Tel: (0131 6)50 6970
Course secretaryMiss Becky Guthrie
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