LibrlSt 722: Special Topics in Contemporary Cultural Studies
Heather Warren-Crow, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Art
Imag(in)ing Youth: Childhood and Adolescence in Visual Culture
In this course, we will examine the discursive construction of youth through images from film, advertising, and 19th through 21st century art. We will pay particular attention to the role of visuality in the construction of the young subject as well as the political, ethical, and aesthetic issues surrounding the viewing of children.
Students will consider the following questions: How is the child produced as an object and subject of vision? How have artists and theorists looked at children? How are understandings of youth essential to both modernity and postmodernity? And finally, what does it mean to say that “children are our future,” and how are fantasies of futurity (both utopian and dystopian) visualized through images of children? Students will have the opportunity to reflect upon their own childhoods as well as on the so-called infantilization of American culture.
Sample texts include Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Carol Mavor’s “Dream-Rushes: Lewis Carroll’s Photographs of Little Girls,” Gilles Deleuze’s The Logic of Sense and Walter Benjamin’s “Doctrine of the Similar,” J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan and the music of Michael Jackson, Barbara Creed’s “Baby Bitches from Hell: Monstrous Little Women in Film” and Gore Verbinski’s The Ring, Robert Latham’s Consuming Youth: Vampires, Cyborgs and the Culture of Consumption and Catherine Hardwicke’s Twilight, Lee Edelman’s “The Future is Kid Stuff” and the artwork of Joseph Cornal, Henry Darger, Anna Gaskell, Anthony Goicolea, Mike Kelley, Sally Mann, Paul McCarthy, Collier Schorr, and Ryan Trecartin.
The course will culminate in a presentation of student research in the form of a conference-style paper or an exhibition of creative work.