Hallie Ford School of Graduate Studies

Curriculum

SUMMARY OF COURSES

Critical Theory, 9 credits
Creative Research, 6 credits
Ethics & Visual Culture, 3 credits
Creative Non-Fiction Writing, 3 credits
Professional Practice, 3 credits
Electives, 6 credits
Internships, 3 credits
Thesis writing, 12 credits

Total Credits: 45


COURSES BY SEMESTER

Fall Semester 1
12 credits
Critical Theory 1: Introduction, 3 credits
Research for a Creative Practice 1, 3 credits
Ethics and Visual Culture, 3 credits
Elective, 3 credits

Spring Semester
12 credits
Critical Theory 2: Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory & LatCrit Theory, 3 credits
Research for a Creative Practice 2, 3 credits
Creative Non-Fiction Writing, 3 credits
Elective, 3 credits

Fall Semester 2
12 credits
Critical Theory 3: Feminist Theory, Queer Theory, Gender, and Sexuality, 3 credits  
Thesis Writing 1, 6 credits
Professional Practice, 3 credits

Spring Semester 2
9 credits
Thesis Writing 2: Preparing for Publication, 6 credits
Internships, 3 credits


COURSE DESCRIPTIONS, BY SEMESTER

Fall Semester 1

Critical Theory 1: Introduction
This seminar is an introduction to major concepts and questions in critical theory, beginning with key figures in the Frankfurt School and moving through feminism, critical race theory, and postcolonial criticism. The seminar claims critical theory as a creative project of analysis and exposure radically interested in accountability and the material effects of ideas. Because the course is taught in the context of an art school, we will pay particular attention to images, exploring overlaps and tensions between critical theory and visual studies and investigating the role critical theory and art can play in transforming institutions and ideologies.

Research for a Creative Practice 1
This seminar explores the connection between critical theory and creative research, providing a framework for students to pose questions and incorporate qualitative research methodologies into ongoing inquiry. The emphasis is on research as a process of critical engagement for observing connections between seemingly disparate ideas, planning future actions and strategies, and asking better questions. The seminar will investigate how power (mis)shapes knowledge production and will introduce students to a range of qualitative research methods and examples of creative inquiries that cross the boundaries of discipline and genre. By the end of the class, students will identify the questions that will frame their thesis research and writing, and the methods they will use to investigate those questions.

Ethics & Visual Culture
This seminar explores critical theory as a critique of seeing. The course models the program’s combination of critical theory and creative research and investigates practices of looking and the production, circulation, and effects of visual images. When images can be used both to liberate and to oppress, to save and to kill, what does it mean to be an artist? What does it mean to be a viewer? This seminar investigates how images are used both to construct and resist “otherness.” Drawing on visual studies, critical theory, religious studies, performance theory, rhetorical analysis, and ethics, the seminar attends to the responsibilities of image-makers and image consumers; the roles of artists and viewers in an image-saturated culture; the use of images to create difference; and questions about how human beings engage language and images to make and unmake worlds.


Spring Semester 1

Critical Theory 2: Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, and LatCrit Theory
This seminar explores Critical Race Theory, Postcolonial Theory, and LatCrit Theory as analytical frameworks that provide epistemological and methodological approaches to the study of structural inequalities. The seminar takes as its starting point Critical Race Theory’s insistence that racism is pervasive, persistent, and ongoing and examines how institutional racism, colonialism, and imperialism are embedded in institutions, laws, practices, and policies. The seminar approaches “race” as a social construction with material effects (racism) and investigates the roles language, images, and other forms of cultural production play in racism, (de)colonization,  and resistance movements. The seminar will combine required content with opportunities for intense engagement with specialized topics the student chooses to explore more deeply related to their thesis work. Students will be encouraged to connect assigned texts to their own areas of expertise and research interests.

Research for a Creative Practice 2
This seminar approaches thesis research as a process of revealing, challenging, and dismantling systems of oppression—and reimagining alternatives. By the end of the seminar, students will have written a literature review of relevant theorists, artists, and creative practices that will inform their thesis work and will be prepared to transform core concepts and questions into a novel, researchable project that will make a contribution to the field. In addition, students will develop presentation skills for clearly communicating research ideas with theoretical and methodological rigor to various audiences. At the end of the term during Focus Week, student will make public presentation of their proposed projects, which will be evaluated by a panel composed of faculty, artists, and community stakeholders.

Creative Non-Fiction Writing
In this writing workshop, students will explore the broad genre of creative nonfiction—from small-scale constraint based writing exercises to the personal essay to academic articles to art reviews to non-narrative poetry and beyond. Through a variety of writing exercises, experiments, and reading assignments, we will play with language, content, and form. Emphasis is placed on experimentation and argument as means to develop a personal vocabulary while initiating a self-directed writing practice. A series of visiting writers will assist us in this work. The course is designed to support graduate students preparing for thesis writing, visual artists who use language and text in their work, and creative writers.


Fall Semester 2

Critical Theory 3: Feminist Theory, Queer Theory, Gender, and Sexuality
Approaching feminist, womanist, and queer theories as tools for questioning power and analyzing the construction of difference, this seminar examines how lives are valued and devalued through representations of “ideal” and “deviant” bodies. We will critically investigate genders and sexualities as contested categories of social and cultural analysis that influence institutions, economies, cultures, political systems, and bodies. Our texts will be interdisciplinary, intersectional, and international, focusing on how sexism and heterosexism interact with other forms of oppression, including classism, racism, able-ism, size-ism, imperialism, and xenophobia. The seminar will combine required content with opportunities for intense engagement with specialized topics the student chooses to explore more deeply related to their thesis work. Students will be encouraged to connect assigned texts to their own areas of expertise and research interests

Thesis Writing 1
This thesis workshop seminar is intended to support students as they complete and defend a successful master’s thesis for the CT+CR program. The thesis (30-50 pages) will be both critical and constructive; that is, it should reveal, challenge, and dismantle systems of oppression, while also reimagining possible ways forward. The course will provide students with opportunities to present, refine, and receive feedback on their written work. Regular reviews of drafts will occur in a combination of writing workshops, assigned critical friends groups, and meetings with the professor throughout the semester. Each student will be provided with an additional mentor with expertise in their area of investigation. Final thesis work will be presented to a panel of faculty, artists, and community stakeholders at the start of the spring semester.

Professional Practice
In this seminar, students develop effective professional strategies to successfully pursue a chosen career path upon completion of the CT+CR program. The course helps students identify opportunities for achieving meaningful career objectives and for making a contribution as a critical citizen. Students learn concrete professional skills: curriculum vitae formatting, email and communication etiquette, letter writing, interviewing, public speaking, job search resources, portfolio development, and how to apply for opportunities (which may include PhD programs, teaching positions, publications, grants, fellowships, internships, residencies, or exhibitions). The objective is to prepare the future CT+CR graduate to identify, plan and pursue a strategy for meaningful career development and a rewarding professional life in which their talents translate into a significant critical cultural contribution.
 

Spring Semester 2

Thesis Writing 2: Preparing for Publication
Due to the fact that so much graduate writing ends up gathering dust on library shelves or serving as doorstops, this workshop is designed to help students prepare their thesis work for publication in the world. At the beginning of the semester, students will present and defend their completed thesis paper to a panel composed of faculty, artists, and community stakeholders. In addition to evaluating the thesis work, the panel will also help students determine the next shape(s) their thesis work should take and the best venues for its distribution. The form of publication will depend on the student’s area of interest and professional practice plans—perhaps an essay for Art Forum, articles for peer-reviewed academic journals, a mission statement and business plan for a non-profit, a series of critical art essays, a community manifesto, a zine, or something else entirely.

Internship and Seminar
Working with BridgeLab, students will design a credit-bearing internship. To get the most out of their internships, students will meet in a bi-weekly seminar to make meaning of their experiences, interrogate the relationship between internships and their thesis work, and develop future plans for critical and engaged work in the world.

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