Browsing Theses and Dissertations by Subject "Visual Culture"
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Hidden in plain sight: Young Black women, place, and visual cultureHidden curriculum scholars have long since recognized the function of the visual in shaping the educational experiences of youth. Scholars have noted that the hidden curriculum of schooling has functioned as a primary socialization mechanism to reproduce capitalism, the state, gender, racial, and class-based inequalities. Today, urban high school spaces present both invisible and visible curricula that are shaped not only by the many images that comprise a school's visual culture, but also by the wider visual landscape. This is of particular import for working-class young Black women who are often framed and seen as social and economic problems within the discourse on urban schools/urban school failure. This discourse teaches. It is taught in and through the everyday visual texts, spaces, and places young Black women navigate to the point that the discourse linking Black femaleness, poverty, and failure becomes natural/normal. It is normalized to the point that it becomes "hidden in plain sight." The simultaneous transparency and invisibility of knowledge presents urban educators concerned about the Black girl and other youth of color with three intersecting problems. First, the educative role of the visual has been underexplored in the research literature on urban schools/urban schooling. Second, within the context of urban schools, we do not know enough about if and or how the educative role of the visual shapes young Black women's relationship with teaching and learning. Third, we do not know if or how the contentious relationship between visual learning inside and visual learning outside of school shapes young Black women's relationship with education as a formal institution and or a process. Given these three intersecting problems, this dissertation project centers on examining the educative impacts of place, visual culture, and design in an effort to fill the gap in the scholarship regarding this portion of the educational experiences of young Black women. Using visual ethnography and discourse analysis as primary methods, I engage a group of five primary student participants who attend a non-traditional, design-focused science and technology magnet school where they are one of the largest student cohorts. Einstein 2.0 is an instance of a progressive, non-normative, small learning community that is attentive to the power of the visual in shaping the teaching and learning experiences, especially for youth of color. In this way, it is a case that can help us better understand the challenges, opportunities, and complexities of harnessing the visual in the urban school context. In this study I argue that by creating a safe and emotionally engaging environment that rejects using punitive disciplinary frameworks and pseudo-factory/pseudo-prison design, Einstein's visual and school culture gave rise to an increased sense of emotional readiness for both producing and receiving knowledge that stands in sharp contrast to the more traditional ways urban schools often approach managing and controlling its student(s') body(ies). Given the increased role of the visual in shaping teaching and learning for youth in the 21st century urban context and the persistent link between young Black women and urban educational/societal failure, having the emotional readiness to deal with these challenges is crucial to their self-definitions (Collins, 2000) and internal motivation to reject and or exceed societal expectations. Using Einstein's approach to visual and organizational culture as a model, I make specific recommendations for educators tasked with or concerned about creating engaging school spaces for young Black women and other youth of color. These recommendations demand further attention to the ways that the visual, spatial, and emotional interact to contour the educational experiences and consumption practices of youth in urban America today.
Mediating Modernity: Visual Culture and Class in Madrid, 1926-1936This dissertation examines the differing responses to modernity in the visual culture of Madrid from 1926-1936. I trace the debates generated by the anticipation, apprehension, or expectations to the ongoing processes of modernization. My work is guided by the understanding that the metropolis is both a physical and psychological space, and that the resulting visual culture is imbued with those experiences of Madrid. Thus, the questions and concerns of the period are instilled in the visual arts, regardless if the city is explicitly represented in them or not. Although Madrid was not a model of industrialization, the city’s inhabitants acknowledged and reacted to the attempts to modernize the city as well as the ongoing political and social transformations. My study examines diverse media alongside the popular press of the period. By examining individual works of art alongside periodicals, my dissertation reveals the relationship between the thriving popular culture, the elite culture, and an emergent mass culture. In the first chapter, I introduce how these different kinds of culture have been defined, as well as Madrid’s current place within art historical scholarship. In the second chapter, I look at how the construction of the Gran Vía avenue was presented in the press to investigate the social effects of the reorganization of Madrid’s center. The third chapter analyzes the development of the public persona of writer Ramón Gómez de la Serna and how he used his image as an advertisement for modernity. In the fourth chapter, I examine the film Esencia de verbena, directed by Ernesto Giménez Caballero. The film pictured Madrid’s traditions but also invoked Surrealist aesthetics. By bringing together ideas of international modernity and local folklore Giménez Caballero showed how popular culture was a useful resource for the local avant-garde. In the final chapter, I focus on the sculpture of artist Alberto Sánchez to demonstrate how his seemingly depoliticized artworks actually engaged in a critical discourse about the economic and social conditions resulting from modernization. This dissertation challenge the current understanding of the distinctions between the popular, elite, and mass cultures in Spain. Such categories cannot fully express the complexity of the visual culture of Madrid in the 1920s and 1930s. Instead, I argue that Madrid’s inhabitants negotiated and mediated modernity by blurring the boundaries and exploring the interconnections between these different cultures.
The Profane and Profound: American Road Photography from 1930 to the PresentThis dissertation historicizes the enduring marriage between photography and the American road trip. In considering and proposing the road as a photographic genre with its tradition and transformation, I investigate the ways in which road photography makes artistic statements about the road as a visual form, while providing a range of commentary about American culture over time, such as frontiersmanship and wanderlust, issues and themes of the automobile, highway, and roadside culture, concepts of human intervention in the environment, and reflections of the ordinary and sublime, among others. Based on chronological order, this dissertation focuses on the photographic books or series that depict and engage the American road. The first two chapters focus on road photographs in the 1930s and 1950s, Walker Evans’s American Photographs, 1938; Dorothea Lange’s An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion, 1939; and Robert Frank’s The Americans, 1958/1959. Evans dedicated himself to depicting automobile landscapes and the roadside. Lange concentrated on documenting migrants on the highway traveling westward to California. By examining Frank’s photographs and comparing them with photographs by Evans and Lange, the formal and contextual connections and differences between the photographs in these two decades, the 1930s and the 1950s, become evident. Further analysis of the many automobile and highway images from The Americans manifests Frank’s commentary on postwar America during his cross-country road trip—the drive-in theater, jukebox, highway fatality, segregation, and social inequality. Chapter 3 analyzes Ed Ruscha’s photographic series related to driving and the roadside, including Twentysix Gasoline Stations, 1962 and Royal Road Test, 1967. The chapter also looks at Lee Friedlander’s photographs taken on the road into the mid-1970s. Although both were indebted to the earlier tradition of Evans and Frank, Ruscha and Friedlander took different directions, representing two sets of artistic values and photographic approaches. Ruscha manifested the Pop art and Conceptualist affinity, while Friedlander exemplified the snapshot yet sophisticated formalist style. Chapter 4 reexamines road photographs of the 1970s and 1980s with emphasis on two road trip series by Stephen Shore. The first, American Surfaces, 1972 demonstrates an affinity of Pop art and Frank’s snapshot. Shore’s Uncommon Places, 1982, regenerates the formalist and analytical view exemplified by Evans with a large 8-by-10 camera. Shore’s work not only illustrates the emergence of color photography in the art world but also reconsiders the transformation of the American landscape, particularly evidenced in the seminal exhibition titled New Topographics: A Man-Altered Landscape, 1975. I also compare Shore’s work with the ones by his contemporaries, such as Robert Adams, William Eggleston, and Joel Sternfeld, to demonstrate how their images share common ground but translate nuanced agendas respectively. By reintroducing both Evans’s and Frank’s legacies in his work, Shore more consciously engaged with this photographic road trip tradition. Chapter 5 investigates a selection of photographic series from 1990 to the present to revisit the ways in which the symbolism of the road evolves, as well as how artists represent the driving and roadscapes. These are evident in such works as Catherine Opie’s Freeway Series, 1994–1995; Andrew Bush’s Vector Portraits, 1989–1997; Martha Rosler’s The Rights of Passage, 1995; and Amy Stein’s Stranded, 2010. Furthermore, since the late 1990s, Friedlander developed a series titled America by Car, 2010, incorporating the driving vision taken from the inside seat of a car. His idiosyncratic inclusion of the side-view mirror, reflections, and self-presence is a consistent theme throughout his career, embodying a multilayered sense of time and place: the past, present, and future, as well as the inside space and outside world of a car. Works by artists listed above exemplify that road photography is a complex and ongoing interaction of observation, imagination, and intention. Photographers continue to re-enact and reformulate the photographic tradition of the American road trip.