Visual Culture: Aspects of Culture that Rely on Visual Images

Topics: Sociology, Cultural studies, Critical theory Pages: 6 (1867 words) Published: May 18, 2013
Visual culture
Visual Culture as an academic subject is a field of study that generally includes some combination of cultural studies, art history, critical theory, philosophy, and anthropology, by focusing on aspects of culture that rely on visual images. Anthropology /ænθrɵˈpɒlədʒi/ is the academic study of humanity. It deals with all that is characteristic of the human experience, from physiology and the evolutionary origins to the social and cultural organization of human societies as well as individual and collective forms of human experience. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences.[1] The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos (ἄνθρωπος), "man", understood to mean humankind or humanity, and -logia (-λογία), "discourse" or "study." Anthropology's basic concerns are the definition of human life and origin, how social relations among humans are organized, who the ancestors of modern Homo sapiens are, what the characterizations of human physical traits are, how humans behave, why there are variations among different groups of humans, how the evolutionary past of Homo sapiens has influenced its social organization and culture and so forth.[citation needed] Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.[1][2] Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.[3] The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom".[4][5][6] Critical theory is a school of thought that stresses the examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism. This has led to the very literal use of 'critical theory' as an umbrella term to describe any theory founded upon critique. According to critical theorist Max Horkheimer a theory is critical in so far as it seeks "to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them" (Horkheimer 1982, 244). In a narrow sense, critical theory refers to a style of neo-Marxist philosophy of the "Frankfurt School", developed in Europe in the 1930s with a tendency to engage with the work of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud.[1] Modern critical theory arose from a trajectory extending from the antipositivist sociology of Max Weber and Georg Simmel, the Marxist theory of Georg Lukács and Antonio Gramsci, toward the milieu associated with Frankfurt Institute of Social Research. Five "Frankfurt School" theorists were chiefly responsible for establishing critical theory as a specific strand of thought: Herbert Marcuse, Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and, slightly later, Jürgen Habermas. With the latter, critical theory shed its roots in German idealism and moved closer to American pragmatism. The concern for a social "base and superstructure" is one of the few remaining Marxist concepts in much contemporary critical theory.[2] Whilst the critical theorists are usually defined as Marxist intellectuals[who?], their tendency to denounce so many Marxian elements has been attacked as 'revisionism' by stricter Marxists. Martin Jay suggests that the first generation of critical theory is best understood not as promoting any specific philosophical agenda or ideology, but rather as "a gadfly of other systems."[3] Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style.[1] This includes the "major" arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture as well as the "minor" arts of ceramics, furniture, and other decorative objects. As a term, art history (also...
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