2011-12 Catalog

Decorative graphic

Offering Description

Between Image and Word


Spring 2012 quarter

Shaw Osha (Flores) visual art , Trevor Speller British literature
Fields of Study
aesthetics, cultural studies, literature, visual arts and writing
Preparatory for studies or careers in
visual art, writing, literature, and critical studies.

I can see why many visual artists dislike words in artworks. They feel that words dirty the clear water that has reflected the sky. It disturbs the pleasure of the silent image, the freedom from history, the beauty of nameless form. I want to name our pains. I want to keep our names. I know that neither images nor words can escape the drunkenness and longing caused by the turning world. Words and images drink the same wine. There is no purity to protect. - Marlene Dumas (1984)

In Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789; 1794), the English poet and painter William Blake famously presented his poems on pages surrounded by his own drawings. This kind of interrelationship of images and words is an artistic tradition that is still alive and well, in visual arts and book arts, from painting to graphic novels. This kind of work asks important questions of both literature and visual art, such as:

  • What is an illustration? What is a caption?
  • When are words necessary to images, and when are images necessary to words?
  • What lies between the image and the word, and what happens when that distinction is broken down?

This one-quarter, all-level program explores the relationships between visual art and the written word. Over the course of the program, we will be examining and producing singular works in which words and images complement each other - where one form does not privilege or illustrate the other. They both work in the service of art and aesthetics by framing and giving form to ideas. These hybrid works of language and art point to new and alternative ways of seeing, reading, and interpreting the world.

We plan to take a look at the ways language has interacted with image: reading and seeing. The program work will be both creative and critical. In addition to reading and viewing artwork, criticism, and theory, students can expect to finish a small book of multi-, inter- or mixed medial writing and artwork by the end of the quarter that challenges and responds to the curriculum. The program includes lecture, seminar, and studio time.

Of literary interest will be the traditions of concrete poetry, children's literature, graphic novels and book arts. Representative authors and artists may include William Blake, Lewis Carroll, Tom Phillips, John Cage, Alan Moore, Maurice Sendak, Barbara Lehman, Donald Crews, and others.

Of artistic interest will be visual art that uses text and artists' books. Representative authors and artists may include Art Spiegelman, Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Ed Ruscha, Ree Morton, Jenny Holzer, Raymond Pettibon, and others.

In addition to primary works, students will be expected to read works of artistic and literary theory relating to issues germane to the program. Theorists such as Johanna Drucker, Roland Barthes, Edward R. Tufte, Roy Harris and Scott McCloud will help shape our understandings of the gaps between the image and the word.

Online Learning
Enhanced Online Learning
Greener Store
Required Fees
$100 for an overnight field trip and a collective program publication.
Offered During

Program Revisions

Date Revision
September 7th, 2011 New program added.