Summer 2023

June 5 – July 3, 2023

Living in a Visual World: How the Eye Writes – L&L/CR

Prof. Mark McBeth
ENGL B6401 section 1WW (class 6883)
TU TH 5:30 – 8:45pm
HYBRID (Online with Occasional Field Trips)

The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. – John Berger, Ways of Seeing

Inquirer to Artist: When did you start being an artist?    Artist: When did you stop?

In the 21st century with the advent of varying technologies and a proliferation of social media, meaning-making and meaning-deciphering demand a deliberate and artful interweaving of visual habits, rhetorical strategies, and subjective positionings within the act of interlocution (FleckensteinVision, Rhetoric). More simply stated, to make meaning in our current world, one must concurrently exercise visual knowledge, textual know-how, and audience sensitivity to understand and convey ideas successfully. In a world where the alphabetic and the optic converge to make things happen, you have to consider and practice these oft-disparate composing capabilities.  We will take on this challenging task in this course. 

In this intensive summer course, students will recall how the ideas of certain 20th-century media theorists (i.e., John Berger, Walter Ong, and Marshal McLuhan) forecasted our current relationships between literacy, visual culture, and technology.  We will explore how current artists, such as Wangechi Mutu, Patrisse Cullors, and Nao Bustamente, use their craft to explore the interrelationships between knowledge and the means of conveying messages; equally, we will investigate how certain academic opportunities have emerged that offer new possibilities for intellectual production (i.e., digital dissertations, online journals). We will read writers/artists who have confronted the challenges of visual culture and have risked genre-bending (for example: Claudia Rankine; Lynda Barry; Maia Kobabe).  We will divine how these burgeoning contexts might change the classroom and education more broadly. Most importantly for the participants in this course, these inquiries will demand that we challenge our own creative abilities to compose with divergent sets of practices, media, and insights.  Participants will do both low-stakes and high-stakes pieces of experimental critical composing that merge the visual, digital, aural, and performative

(. . . maybe also the gustatory, olfactory, and haptic.)

This hybrid course will meet primarily online; however, we might venture out into New York City for some museum or archive visits.  This open access course will provide all readings for the course for free.

Dr. Mark McBeth, Professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and The Graduate Center/CUNY, investigates the intersections between literacy studies, Queer theory, and normative institutional policies. Over the past two decades, Mark McBeth has taught and administered at the City University of New York. His publications include Teacher Training at Cambridge: The Initiatives of Oscar Browning and Elizabeth Hughes (co-authored with Pam Hirsch, Woburn Press, 2004),  Queer Literacy: Discourses and Discontents (Lexington Books, 2019), and Literacy and Learning in Times of Crisis: Emergent Teaching Through Emergencies (Co-Edited., Frank Cass, 2022). 

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