Instructor: Dr. Richard Chalfen
Office: 224 Gladfelter Hall
Time: Thursday, 10:10-1:00
Class: Gladfelter Hall 231
Telephone: 215-204-1413


The course offers a survey approach; the theoretical overview is grounded in a perspective that applies concepts of culture to processes of visual communication. Lectures, readings, and coursework will review and utilize theories, methods, and topics relevant to visual symbolic forms. Primary attention is given to understanding relationships between culture constructs, visual codes, and social/cultural contexts. Emphasis will be placed on understanding images as cultural documents, and on the diversity of pictorial codes and modes that humans use on an everyday basis. Equal attention will be given to problems of image production, pictorial manipulations and strategies of interpretation.

This course offers students opportunities to apply theory in the anthropology of visual communication to real-life examples of our everyday immediate pictorial/symbolic environment. This semester students will undertake short fieldwork exercises on the study of magazine advertisements (as found in National Geographic), urban graffiti, postcard communication, and home mode pictorial communication -- including family album snapshots and home movies/video.

Each student will keep a written journal through out the semester; quizzes on assigned readings will be given, and class reports will be assigned on an irregular basis. Additional details will be given during our first meeting.


Banta, Melissa and Curtis M. Hinsley
1986.............From Site to Sight - Anthropology, Photography and the Power of Imagery. Cambridge, MA: Peabody                       Museum Press.

O'Barr, William M.
1994.............Culture and the Ad -- Exploring Otherness in the World of Advertising. Boulder, Co.: Westview Press.

Chalfen, Richard (ed.)
1996.............Readings for Anthropology 241 (on Paley Reserve)