Concepts & Methods of Visual Culture
Due date: October 8, 2018
One goal of this first assignment is to encourage you to make use of the concept of the sign as it is understood by linguistics and semiotics. As we have discussed in class, the two components of the sign are the signifier and the signified – in language the signifier is audio-visual (also in contemporary film, performance art, theater, dance, etc.), whereas other cultural phenomena make use of only one of these dimensions (radio and recordings: audio // painting and sculpture: visual). When writing this paper, please be sure to use the concepts of the sign, the signifier, and the signified in your discussion. [Remember; not all signs point to material objects, i.e. not all signs have referents, but all express one or more meanings, i.e. signifieds.]
1/ Begin this assignment by choosing two photographs from your personal, family history. One of these should date from before your birth, and display a scene, person, and/or objects that you never had a chance to experience in person. The second of these should include you as a very young child, 0-3 years of age, perhaps with other people, objects, buildings, and the like. Be sure to scan these photographs and include the appropriate image at the beginning of each main section of your paper.
2/ You can start your paper with an introductory paragraph that establishes the cultural context for the photographs. In it you can indicate: your family’s ethnic background; whether other languages besides English were spoken in your childhood home; your economic situation; whether you lived in an extended family, a nuclear family, with a single parent, etc.