images description

visual studies

The Visual Studies Research Group is interested in the examination and the production of visual culture. Combining theory and practice, the goal of the group is to produce a deep understanding of visual culture. This group uses a wide range of methodologies, on an equally wide range of visual objects, ranging from the aesthetics of robot vision to “classical” statuary, e.g. painting, performance, sculpture, fashion, photography, film, television, architecture, graphic novels, video games and other digital technologies.

Following the model established by Annie Sinton Taft and the Taft Trustees, we define the term “visual” to include interdisciplinary approaches to media from the fields of humanities (anthropology, literature, philosophy, history, et cetera), the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, economics, and political science), as well as from interdisciplinary approaches and area studies, such as Africana Studies, Judaic Studies, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Visual Studies uses tools drawn from multiple disciplines to examine the practices, processes, and effects of looking, imagining, and creating images, including aesthetics, philosophy, media theory, cultural studies, art history and neuroscience to name a few. These tools are also used to develop new visual forms and practices that expand and critique visual culture.

The Visual Studies Research Group draws on faculty and resources from the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Design Art Architecture & Planning, and the College Conservatory of Music to offer a diverse series of programming, including workshops, lectures by local and visiting scholars and artists, art exhibitions, and film screenings. It is also engaged in curricular projects and artistic productions across media.

Vision Statement

The Visual Studies Research Group, sponsored by the Taft Research Center, reflects and promotes the interests and expertise of UC faculty in the humanities, arts and social sciences and seeks to enhance interdisciplinary discourse, research and teaching in visual studies. It explores visual culture across media, including film and video, fashion, television, video games, theater, photography, painting, sculpture and architecture. The VSRG hosts public lectures and seminars, sponsors discussions between scholars, artists, and policymakers, engages the public on local, regional, national, and international issues, and provides a university forum for discussing curricular and program needs, especially as pertaining to the two new interdisciplinary certificate programs in Film & Media Studies and Critical Visions.


  • Offer disciplinary, specifically historical, literary, sociological, anthropological, philosophical and political perspectives on visual issues.
  • Foreground interdisciplinary frames for examining visual material.
  • Host public humanities lectures, seminars, and symposia, screenings, shows, and installations on visual and media studies.
  • Sponsor roundtable discussions between visual studies scholars and local visual artists.
  • Coordinate graduate and undergraduate courses in Visual Studies.
  • Offer two undergraduate certificates in Film & Media Studies and Critical Visions and build a graduate certificate program in Visual Studies.
  • Educate and engage the public on visual and media issues through humanities and social science perspectives.

Funding Goals

  • Establish a “Friends of Visual Studies” Gift program for personal donations.
  • Seek large donations from philanthropists and corporate sponsors, particularly Cincinnatians.
  • Secure private foundation monies to support long-term curricular and research objectives.
  • Explore the possibility of collaboratively writing and submitting grants to the Ford Foundation, The Mellon Foundation, the Social Sciences Research Council, and other organizations.

Allocation of External Funds Raised

  • Develop and offer graduate and undergraduate courses in Visual Studies
  • Support professional development of faculty in the research cohort
  • Provide educational fora for the general public
  • Coordinate activities across multiple colleges—The McMicken College of Arts & Sciences; the College of Design, Art, Architecture, and Planning (DAAP); and the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM)
  • Increase institutional infrastructure in Visual Studies

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