Images impact us directly: ethically, aesthetically, politically, psychologically, philosophically. We think and communicate in images. Understanding how images function throughout cultures is central to understanding our place in a global contemporary world.
The Master of Arts in Visual and Critical Studies explores how visual artifacts shape our consciousness and actions. Why do we do what we do? What influences us and how?
Deluged with imagery, a conscious awareness of how images shape our attitudes and actions allows us to more effectively navigate our world.
Students of visual and critical studies will learn to write about visual culture in a scholarly manner, publish in peer review journals, synthesize and apply qualitative research methods and gain mastery in critical theory.
Equipped with the tools to be individual researchers, graduates of this program will have the framework to suture together knowledge in new ways, fostering experimentation and discovery.
This program is pending Ferris State University Board and NASAD approval.
For more information, please contact our Graduate Recruitment Specialist,
This course will introduce students to the writing of key scholars associated with the emergent field of Visual Studies. Additionally, this course will also include material from cognitive science on the mechanics of sight, theories of "mind," and perception.
The course will require students to read and discuss key texts that formulate different approaches to critiquing visual culture in the modern and contemporary periods (c. 1850 to the present). The course will require students to complete critical reviews and research projects.
This course will focus on diverse methodological approaches and research processes that will lead to the development of an appropriate research question for the master's thesis. The course will be organized as a seminar in which students will discuss important texts and peer-review fellow students' writing. Additional time outside class will be devoted to research.
This course will examine the constantly changing and expanding new media and technology and how they influence the way we behave, think, and live. By analyzing new media including social technology, the course will examine critical theory in relation to the moving image, imaging technology, the impact of social media, and the globally instantaneous dissemination of images and ideas.
This course will provide a forum for the writing and completion of the master's thesis, which is comprised of either research of original documents and source material and/or the application of methods learned in the Research and Methods seminar to a topic of visual culture. The course will be organized as a seminar in which students (under the supervision of Visual and Critical Studies faculty) will present and peer review their research. Additional time outside class will be devoted to the completion of the thesis (20,000-40,000 words in length).
This course will focus on an indepth examination of those strategic points at which social practice, theory, and the practice of art intersect. Students will read from key theoretical texts on Post-structuralism and Deconstruction including the writings of such seminal thinkers as Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Julia Kristeva, and others.
Students will be introduced to current theory critically framing our understanding of the representation of others including gender, race, ethnicity, class, criminality and social deviance, sexual orientation and identity, disability and embodiment, Posthumanism and the animal, and notions of radical otherness.
Drawing on historic foundations and contemporary work in metaphysics and philosophy of science, this course will explore the relationships between metaphysics which concerns the nature and description of an Ultimate Reality, and representation of that which lies beyond human sensual knowing.
The course will analyze the centrality of the city of Paris from the 1860s to the 1960s in diverse interpretations of modernity. Course readings will include critical texts by Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Henri Lefebvre, and Guy Debord.
This course will study the impact of historically shifting technology, media, and effects of biomedical imaging on notions of identity, personhood, illness, etc, including imagery culled from medical texts identifying pathological body function and the indexing of symptoms to more recent narrative medical practices.
This course will explore the global visual and performed culture of performances and masquerade, in which the identity of the performer is concealed through a mask, costume, or makeup. The course will explore masquerade performances as a transformative act that resonates with issues of artistry and socio-political and economic concerns.
This course examines the strategic points at which the philosophical branches of Aesthetics and Ethics intersect. Students will consider a range of problematic cultural artifacts and images as filtered through Platonic, Deontological, Utilitarian, Pragmatic, Care-ethical, and other key philosophical thought projects.
This course will examine the history, theory, and current practices in sequential imaging in media such as comics, painting, animation, interactive technology, games, and film. Students will critically analyze sequential arts' relationship with time, space, and semiotics along with other theories of visual narratives.
Download the catalog for the most recent course listings and prerequisites.