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Cultural & Visual Analysis




Admissions requirements

Successful completion of GC Diversity and at least one 100 level course in the major.


How do we ‘read’ cultural productions? What do literary writing, films, visual art, photography and other forms of creative expression have in common, and how can they be interpreted in dialogue with public discourses? How do these practices of ‘world-making’ and reflecting on societal structures dovetail with discourses of philosophy that engage with issues of ethics and politics in the world of today?

These and related questions will be the focus of this course, which continues the foundational course ‘What is Culture’ and prepares students for more advanced study of narrative and visual cultural practices. Our readings and discussions will concentrate on developing insights into the ‘construction’ of fiction and non-fiction, films and documentaries, artworks and photography, as well as into the theoretical and philosophical strategies we can use to comprehend and reflect on the content and form of these ‘texts’. We will consider the ways in which cultural theory helps us to analyse such artefacts and will practice reading the two in dialogue.

Thematically, the course will engage the issues of law, justice, reconciliation and forgiveness in post-conflict societies, focusing on the example of South Africa’s post-apartheid transition as the main context. Considering the ways in which cultural production has participated in public discussions on history and archives, truth and responsibility, we will read the selected artefacts alongside several important texts on ethics and politics of post-conflict transition.

Weekly topics:

week 1: Introduction and theory
week 2: Theatre & Performance
week 3: Literary writing
week 4: Film
week 5: Documentary & photography
week 6: Visual art
week 7: Intercultural perspective

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course students are able to:

  • reflect on the role literature and art play in social life and public culture

  • explain major concepts pertaining to textual and visual analysis

  • apply appropriate theoretical concepts and methods in analysing a range of texts, written and visual

  • critically interpret written and visual texts in cultural contexts

  • prepare and deliver a group presentation

  • write a short analytical essay


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The course will be conducted as a seminar, with two 2-hour sessions per week. Following a theoretical and contextual introduction into the seminar theme, sessions in weeks 2-6 will focus on developing strategies of analysing diverse examples of narrative and visual artefacts. Each week, we will study a particular art form: one session will be focused on theoretical concepts and strategies, the other on the practice of reading and analysing. Students will be actively participating in sessions by presenting theoretical approaches and case studies as well as conducting their own and discussing each other’s critical readings. Week 7 will conclude with placing the outcomes of these analytical exercises into a broader philosophical and socio-cultural context. During week 8, students will complete and submit an analytical essay demonstrating their ability to use strategies of cultural analysis.


10% - participation
20% - group presentation
30% - two analytical exercises focusing on two different art forms (15% each)
40% - final paper (1500-2000 words)


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

Antjie Krog, Country of My Skull (any edition). It is recommended that you buy and start reading the novel before the beginning of the course.

A list of films and videos will be provided at the beginning of the course.


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact