Words and Images

Jeremy C. Justus, Words and Images, Fall 2018


This interdisciplinary course explores the relationships between language and the diverse kinds of images that often accompany it (film, video, photography, book illustration, painting, etc.). The course goal is to study the parallels and differences between images and words (as systems of communication) and to understand how they can productively interrelate within creative and critical works like literature, film, video and new media, and photographic studies.

Along these lines, this course will urge students to consider the longstanding relationship between visual and literary cultures. Contemporary culture is, in so many ways, visual culture. This makes sense, given that humans have a natural urge to produce and consume visual information. After all, the largest parts of our brains are those responsible for processing what our eyes see. But visual information arguably always has a linguistic counterpart, even if it only resides in our instinctive urges to interpret and, in so doing, make sense of what we see. It is thus no surprise that there are usually textual counterparts to primarily visual cultural products: films have scripts, photographs have captions, even works of visual art are typically accompanied by a title and author bio (at the very least). Moreover, each genre of visual art arguably has a story to tell, and it is our job to translate that story into words.

This semester, we’ll examine these phenomena from multiple perspectives. And, in the process, we’ll create bits of visual culture of our own.

Required Texts and Materials:

• Most assigned readings will be available digitally. If you would prefer to read hard copies, you should reserve a portion of your budget for printing costs.
• Ear buds / headphones for viewing / listening to works in class.
• A Google account (you’ll need it for Google Maps, Google Drive, and Blogger)
• A cloud storage account (I recommend DropBox and/or Google Drive).

Note: This is only the first six pages of the course syllabus. Does not include course calendar.


Patrick S. Belk, Words and Images, Fall 2016

Course Description:

This course is designed to acquaint students with the works of both mainstream and minority science- fiction writers from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. We will be paying special attention to the ways in which contemporary artists interpreted their works through illustrations--i.e., the graphic art that was produced on assignment to illustrate their novels and short stories when first published--for magazines such as Amazing Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, Dynamic Science Stories, and Planet Stories. To ground our discussion of early science fiction, we will also be focusing on the study of periodicals of that period, asking how the growth of SF magazines and magazine cultures in Britain, Europe, and the US helped to shape, define, and introduce diverse audiences to the broad cultural, historical, and aesthetic shifts that characterize SF as a literary genre. Along with reading SF novels and short stories in the first context in which they were published, we will be discussing a variety of features crucial to understanding periodicals. Editorial features, advertisements, art, and illustrations; essays on science, technology, and inventions, alongside letters from readers (correspondence columns include “Discussions” and “The Ether Vibrates”); should help broaden your definition of literature, and encourage you to read these magazines as both complex aesthetic objects and documents of cultural history.
This course is designed as a study of words and images through their relationships, connections to, and in converse with other forms of multimedia. Adaptations from weekly radio serials, Golden Age comic books, and Hollywood films will therefore be used to enhance this exploration of the multiple channels and variety of media that first brought classic works of early science fiction by writers Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, Leigh Brackett, and Philip K. Dick to audiences around the world.

Required Texts:
Texts can be downloaded from my website, The Pulp Magazines Project (URL available on C-Web). Contexts may also be provided through academic articles, chapters on book history, or fan essays (in any of these cases, a PDF will be made available for you on C-Web). So for this course, you need just three things: reliable access to a computer, a fast Internet connection, and some basic software (Adobe Reader, Google Chrome, any document editor, i.e. Microsoft Word). The Chrome browser is preferred; and the available Flash plug-in for Chrome must be installed and enabled.

Subscribe to RSS - Words and Images