VTP Course List


A/ Core Courses (students have to take 4 credits in total) 

Core courses taken beyond the 4 credit requirement will be counted as Electives.

FALL 2018

TS III. Visual Culture

Endre Gyorgy Szonyi, Gerhard Jaritz, 2 credits, Dept. of History and Medieval Studies

Studies of Visual Culture represent much more than research into images or works of art.  They are based on multidisciplinary and cross-faculty approaches concerning a variety of aspects that constitute the visual world as well as its perception and creation by humans. Therefore, they also mean a particular broadening of attention.

The course is meant to show the importance of this field of research for Medieval Studies and any other historical discipline and the possibilities of contextualizing application of Visual Culture-research. It deals with functions, influences and meanings of visual objects as well as with possible approaches to analyze them.

We will deal with the differences of Art History and Visual Studies as well as with their interdependence. Questions of the rhetoric of visual evidence, of seeing and reading, of the performance of visual artifacts as well as their sign language(s) will regularly determine our discussions. We may become aware of the situation that “visual studies – in recognition of new and newly rediscovered constellations of visual objects in use – proposes that we leave ourselves open to improvisation and surprise.” (James D. Herbert).

Film and the City: A thematic introduction to the critical analysis of film

Laszlo Strausz, Cultural Heritage Program, 2 credits

The goal of this course is to introduce participating students to the basic vocabulary of the critical- and theoretical analysis of motion pictures. In order to create access points to the topic, the course will progress through the investigation of the theme of cinema and the city. By considering the audiovisual language and select theoretical aspects of film in the context of the city, student will develop skills transferrable to several disciplines related to visual studies. The course is structured into four parts, each lasting three weeks. In the first part of the course, students will familiarize themselves with the basic elements of film language (The city as composition). During the forthcoming parts (The city as identity, The city as nation, The city as memory), the group will focus on various theoretical models and analyse filmic texts that create meaning as identities, collectives and memories.

Foundations of Visual Practice

Didem Pekun, 2 credits, Department of Sociology

The course acquaints students with the principles of visual language from a combined theory and practice perspective. It provides an understanding of visual perception, the basic elements and structure of visual language and grammar, and the relationship between the two. The course enables participants to apply principles of visual grammar in their own scholarship and creative work, and empowers participants to develop their own unique visual voice.




Oksana Sarkisova and Jeremy Braverman, 4 credits, Dept. of History

A filmmaking course for historians and those in related fields. The course also surveys classical and experimental documentary films and discusses major issues in filmmaking relevant (primarily) for history students (and other humanities and social sciences students) interested in the mechanisms of constructing and challenging established visual historical narratives. The course meets 2 times a week, one of the sessions is a seminar which discusses theoretical aspects of filmmaking and film interpretation, the other meeting is a practical session in the media lab. The outcome of the course will be 3-5 minute short films on historical themes created by groups of students, accompanied by short research papers reflecting on the subject and the interpretative position of the filmmaker/researcher. VISUAL THEORY AND VISUAL PRACTICE TRACK

Memory Frames: Visual Analysis of Photography and Film

Oksana Sarkisova (Blinken OSA and VSP) and Renata Uitz (Legal Studies Department) with Jeremy Braverman (CEU Library, VSP), Jessie Labov (CMDS), and guest faculty, 2 credits, university-wide course

This is the first CEU university-wide course on methods of visual research which surveys interdisciplinary approaches to film and photography in humanities and social sciences. Images are means of preserving, showcasing, relocating and erasing memories of past events. As such visual sources are a true treasure trove for research in the social sciences and humanities. With the development of information technology classics and long-forgotten films and photographs become available to new audiences. Technological advances facilitate the exponential creation and constant reinterpretation of visual data. The course raises students’ methodological awareness by addressing epistemological, ethical, and political questions associated with the production and circulation of images. It approaches film and photography not just as aesthetic practices that lay claim to reality, but also as intellectual discourses that reflect cultural and social ideas, and challenge existing discourses and conventions. Students are invited to explore medium-specificity and the social context of image production, exhibition, and circulation, emphasizing social and historical conditioning of seeing. The two credit-course engages CEU and external faculty to discuss topics such as the relationship of image with the notion of objectivity, the social conditioning of interpretative frameworks, the appropriation and redefinition of visual imagery in different contexts. The course is also an elective core course for the Advanced Certificate in Visual Theory and Practice and aims to advance students’ proficiency with new methodologies. VISUAL THEORY AND PRACTICE TRACK

Vlad Naumescu and Didem Pekün, 4 credits, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

This course explores the ways in which the visual conveys and broadens ethnographic investigation. In a discipline dominated by words we came to think exclusively in terms of culture as text and ethnography as ‘writing culture’. Challenging anthropology's iconophobia the course proposes an alternative perspective focused on the role of vision and the moving image in anthropological research. It takes visuality as a mode of knowing and representing, looking at different ways of seeing and the cultural interpretations of such representations. It addresses critical issues related to knowledge production, reflexivity, ethics and aesthetics in ethnographic filmmaking and enables participants to explore these issues in their own visual work. The course aims to balance practice and theory by combining readings and film screenings with practical instruction in filmmaking techniques and students’ own visual production. In the lecture sessions, it covers the parallel beginnings of film and anthropology, portrayals of 'exotic people' and the role of visual documentation in early anthropology. It looks at observation as a mode of ethnographic inquiry, visual conventions in fiction and documentary, narrative and editing styles, issues of authorship and subjectivity in ethnographic film. In the last part it explores the potential and perils of an anthropological engagement with ‘old’ and new media through selected examples of such experiments. The workshop sessions build on visual and theoretical input to help students define their visual approach and develop a project of their own. These sessions cover all phases of the filmmaking process, beginning with idea development and pre-production, through production practices including cinematography, sound recording, and interviewing, and finally postproduction processes including sound and picture editing. Class sessions include lecture on relevant concepts, viewing and analysis of visual examples, technical instruction on equipment, hands-on exercises, and critique of class projects and films at each stage of completion. Outside of class, students will complete 2 short, video-based exercises exploring and developing individual production skills, and one larger, final project. VISUAL THEORY AND VISUAL PRACTICE TRACK

B / Elective Courses in theory and practice tracks

FALL 2018


Jeremy Braverman, 2 credits, Nationalism Studies, open cross-university

The course provides students a grounding in the craft of video production, and the creation of moving images, instructing them in basic skills that they can apply to projects and research in their respective disciplines, and beyond. These skills cover all phases of the documentary production process, from idea development, through pre-production and preparation, cinematography, sound and editing.  Through learning to create moving images, in concert with formal analysis of documentary examples, students gain valuable, versatile skills, and gain literacy in this increasingly important mode of communication.


Kate Coyer and Jeremy Braverman, 4 credits, School of Public Policy

A documentary filmmaking course with an emphasis on creating advocacy documentaries, intended to influence societal opinion on a given issue. Many new forms of advocacy are incorporating video, mobile communications and social media. These enable enhanced engagement, mobilization and participation by concerned citizens -- both acting with formal NGOs and within formal structures, and increasingly in decentralized and ad-hoc networks. Aided by the spread in low-cost, high-quality technologies, video and moving image media are becoming increasingly ubiquitous and multi-form, and are playing an ever-increasing role in advocacy strategies.


Ian M. Cook and guest lecturers/instructors, 2 credits, School of Public Policy, open cross-university

Sound studies describes the various ways in we can know the world through sound, understand sonic phenomena or practices, and explore how sound extends the contours of academic knowledge production. Highly interdisciplinary and often undertaken in cooperation with those outside academia, from musicians to professionals, the field of sound studies is increasingly diverse, daring and exciting. This co-taught course will explore the cultural, social, philosophical, political and material dimensions of sound and listening. We will explore questions such as: how do race and ethnicity intersect with listening? is our pristine natural sonic environment increasingly ruined by industrialisation and urbanisation? how do states seek to regulate sound and noise? how does podcasting change academic knowledge production? how can we know the world through sound? what's the importance of sound design in documentary film? what does the advancement of literacy do to cultures of orality? how does technology mediate sonic knowledge and musical production? Taking sonic mediums seriously, the course also includes practical sessions in which students will learn how to create audio materials relating to the topics and theories explored in class.


Introduction to Geospatial Data Visualization 

Viktor Lagutov, Katalin Szende, József Laszlovszky, Ruben Mnatsakanian, 2 credits, university-wide course

Rapidly growing cross-disciplinary recognition and availability made Geospatial Methods in general, and Mapping, in particular, a popular approach in many research areas. Till recently, maps development had been a prerogative of cartographers and, later, experts in specialized mapping packages. Latest advances in hardware and software have opened this area to researchers in other disciplines and allowed them to enhance traditional research methods. The wide spectrum of such technologies and approaches is often referred as Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and includes, among others, mapping packages, geospatial analysis, crowdsourcing with mobile technologies, drones, online interactive data publishing. The geospatial literacy is becoming not an optional advantage for researchers and policy officers, but a basic requirement for many employers.

The aim of the course is to develop basic understanding of spatially referenced data use and to explore potential applications of GIS in various research areas. The sessions provide both theoretical understanding and practical use of geospatial data and technologies for mapping societal and environmental phenomena. Students will learn basic features of GIS packages and the ways to utilize them for own research. VISUAL PRACTICE TRACK


Marsha Siefert, Fall, 4 credits, Dept. of History

This course is a history of media in communist societies with particular attention to the modes and institutions of production, dissemination, and reception in an international context. The course begins with the premise that the mass media were central to the communist goals of political socialization and cultural enlightenment. A second premise is that understanding “everyday socialism” requires understanding how the media “works,” so special attention will be paid to concepts like propaganda, censorship and public opinion that figure prominently in interpreting the way in which communication takes place in communist societies. A third premise is that the media environment during this period was never isolated, but exported to, exchanged with and penetrated by “western” media; thus the international context of media reception and interpretation is part of the history.

Zsuzsanna Renner, 2 credits, Cultural Heritage Studies Progam

This course provides an overview of museum operation visible to and hidden from the public, revealing how museums fulfill their key roles in collecting, preserving and displaying the cultural heritage assets in their custody.  The first part of the course offers first-hand information on the processes behind the scenes through visits to collection depos and conservation studios led by museum professionals and presentations by curators and other experts. In the second part of the course we’ll focus on the activities of museums directed towards the public: exhibitions, museum education, visitors' programs, etc. By analyzing the textual and visual aspects of selected exhibitions, we’ll decipher the messages they convey to the public. We’ll also be interested whether the various museum functions and communication tools work together in transmitting well-formulated and coherent narratives. We’ll devote about two-thirds of the classes to museum visits and the rest to in-class discussions.

Hyaesin Yoon, 2 credits, Department of Gender Studies

This course explores the performing arts (in the broad sense of the term) as an important site for feminist interventions in arts, activisms, and knowledge production. In the past few decades, the performing arts have radically changed their relationship with the public. While they previously inhabited special institutions (such as theatres and plazas), they have now advanced to almost everywhere across public, private, and virtual domains – often converging with social movements, cultural practices, and everyday rituals. As such, the performing arts have participated in feminist and other critical conversations on various issues, including the power relations of gender/sexuality, race, and disability; belonging and displacement; ecological crisis; and science and technology. At the same time, the relationship between performance and research has come to the fore in academia. Judith Butler’s approach to gender as performative is one important spur among several that have stimulated a new approach to key social ideas. In this context, the performative aspects of research have also become a site of interdisciplinary discussion and experimentation among scholars and artists – challenging the conventional claim that knowledge is separable from the subject, object, and social conventions of knowing. Exploring the political and scholarly potential for engaging with performance in “the century of the performative” (Claire Colebrook), this course aims to (1) examine feminist and other critical interventions in and through performing arts and (2) experiment with new ways of learning, making, and sharing knowledge through creative interaction with the public. This year’s theme is “How to Do Things with Cyborgs.” Inspired by use of the cyborg as a feminist figure and methodology in the works of Donna Haraway and other scholars, this theme is an invitation to engage with the subjects of science, technology, and medicine alongside performance and/as research.

WINTER 2018 

Alexandra Kowalski, 2 credits, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology

Art is a universal fact of human histories and cultures. It is one that global modernity has transformed radically, however. Over few centuries, works of art became an integral part of the circuits of knowledge, commodities, and power that formed under the joint impact of technological innovation, imperialism, and capitalism. In the process, art became: the quasi-exclusive domain of specialized “art worlds”; a tool of political domination, communication, and resistance; an economic resource; and a means of complex status distinction specific to capitalist, class societies. If the centrality of art and culture to the self-proclaimed “modern” polity is undoubtable, this privileged position is threatened today in ways that need to be questioned. 

The course explores these various sociological dimensions of the macro-history of art. We ask and seek to answer questions about the significance, singularity, and definition of art across time and space, with an eye to the specific issues raised by neoliberal domination and by the world-wide spread of illiberal politics in the contemporary era.  The questions we ask are social-theoretical; the tools we mobilize to answer are historical and anthropological.


Marcell Sebők with Jessie Labov and Tamás Kiss, 2 credits, Medieval Studies Department

The course aims at introducing students to the basic debates and methodologies of the digital humanities (DH), and to think through how these approaches and methods might best be applied in their respective (historical or other humanities) projects and disciplines. After tracing how this interdisciplinary field has developed and some of its challenges and limitations, four of the main methodologies featured in DH will be discussed: text analysis, network analysis, mapping, and topic modeling. During these weeks of exploring the various approaches, students will also be working in groups, experimenting with their own datasets and areas of research. By the end of the course, each group will present and submit a DH research or project proposal, incorporating at least one methodology with a selected discipline and area of research.


Emese Kürti, 4 credits, Department of History

According to Bertolt Brecht, for overcoming difficulties, communities are formed in nature, but the community is only viable until leaves untouched individual lives of the individuals involved. Under conditions of totalitarian and posttotalitarian regimes the ’untouched’ life of individuals becomes even more and more desirable and utopic.

The course will focus on the artistic communities of the second halt of the 20th century in their dialogical operation with the political power, emphasising the case and history of East Central Europe. Similarly to their counterparts from the other side of the Iron Curtain, collective acting served a relevant model for artists during their self-definition processes. At the same time, political interventions much more characteristic in socialist countries resulted more specific roles and connectedness to the ruling power. Different versions of dissident thinking, oppositional attempts, aesthetic resistance, reformist utopias and even collaborations from the grey zone are all tangible concerning artistic practices from the past.

Examining art scenes emerging after 1956, we will focus on theories and notions of modernism and the neo-avantgarde, using as a starting point historical self-definitions in dialogue with latest methodological approaches of „horizontal art history”. Taking examples from global and East-Central European art practices, we will consider dominantly experimental artistic practices in a comparative way, using the methods and vocabulary of visual, cultural and gender studies, history, art history and musicology. Concentrating on issues of marginality, deconstruction of „East” and „West”, the politicised phenomena of youth subculture, the recuperation of public space, issues of cultural minorities in Yugoslavia, samizdat practices in Russia and cultural rebellions in Hungary, we will cover the region’s cultural scene. Working with a methodological pluralism when combining a historical-theoretical approach with an actor inspired approach, participants will have the direct possibility to access primary sources of archives and pieces of visual arts.

György E. Szőnyi, CEU 2 credits, ECTS 3 credits

Film studies has been gaining an increasing share and popularity among the disciplines of the humanities. Films are in many ways connected with historical studies; historical films represent history, contribute to building national identity, and help to maintain cultural memory. At the same time they raise a number of theoretical issues about representation, interpretation, hermeneutics, cultural pragmatics. The course will 1/ touch upon these theoretical aspects; 2/ briefly survey the technical basics of filmic representation; 3/ introduce the generic aspects of historical films with a special emphasis on how they serve cultural memory and construct the national heritage; 4/ analyze several historical films dealing with the "representations of power struggle". 

The course will be organized as follows: Each class will be devoted to a discussion of theoretical and historiographical topics completed by the analysis of a film, always introduced by a student presentation. The film to be discussed will be uploaded on an internet site (TBA) and the students are expected to familiarize themselves with the film before the class. As shown in the detailed schedule below, each film requires two student presentations: one on the historical background f the film, and a second on the filmic context (something about the director, the reception of the film, and how it treats the historical material). 

The goal of the course is to make students aware of the relationship between history and filmic representations. Additionally, it is aimed at explaining filmic techniques as well as basics of film analysis/appreciation. In sum: the didactic goals of the course can be condensed to the following questions: "How to look at an 'historical' film?" and "Looking at the past in a postliterate age." 

The learning outcome should consist of 1/ an accumulation of historical knowledge about the connections of political and social history and aesthetical expression by means of the filmic medium; 2/ a clear insight into the cultural historical constructs of the past (from the Middle Ages throughout the twentieth century); 3/ a foundation of practicing "reading" films especially about characters and events of the remote past.

Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy
Lecturers: Maja Fowkes, Reuben Fowkes, Alan Watt 2 credits

This course examines the impact of the Anthropocene on how we experience and represent the natural world, in shaping debates around the collective response to ecological crisis and on the evolving role of artists in visualising planetary issues. Students examine a broad range of approaches in visual arts, performance arts, film and literature to environmental issues from responses to the challenges posed by climate change to engagements with bio-diversity and sustainable lifestyles. Along with lectures and seminar discussions, this course will involve encounters with multiple art forms and contemporary cultural sources and provide opportunities to develop critical skills and broaden their response to ecological issues.

Dóra Mérai, 2 credits, Department of Medieval Studies, Cultural Heritage Studies Program

Memory is now everywhere in scholarship and in popular culture alike. Memory studies as a field and memory as a concept connect a range of disciplines from humanities through social sciences to natural sciences. Within the field of memory studies, this course will focus on the media of memory, specifically visual and material culture as well as space. The concept of memory inevitably crops up when interpreting any cultural product from the past — be they medieval documents or artworks, nineteenth-century literature, architecture and urban space, photographs, movies, or even environmental or natural features—and all these can be understood as media of memory. Media are essential in the creation of memories; they not only reflect the perception of the past by individuals and groups but also determine how we remember in manifold ways. What is more, the same object often contributes to the creation of diverse memories and memory communities who add new interpretations to the original meanings. The course will examine how different media are used and re-used in various socio-cultural contexts, and what they tell about the given community and society. To grasp the fundamentals of memory studies, the course will cover the main definitions and theories of memory as well as the current trends in memory research and its intersections with media, visual, and material culture studies. In addition, we will examine how the concept of memory relates to history and cultural heritage by analyzing selected pieces of secondary literature and case studies, examples of visual and material culture from various periods of history from the Middle Ages to the twenty-first century. We will look at examples of how the media changed across time—from paintings, sculptures, and handwriting through printing to digital media and the internet. The course entails both classroom sessions and extramural visits to memory sites of Budapest such as the Jewish Quarter, Memento Park, and the Farkasréti Cemetery.

feminist biopolitics and cultural practice

Hyaesin Yoon, 4 credits, Department of Gender Studies

What do memorial displays for those who died from AIDS tell us about public mourning as a political measure of the (disavowed) sexuality? How might performances of dancers and other artists with disabilities challenge the normative perception of gendered and racialized desire/desirability? How do artistic and scientific rendering of “life” reanimate certain mode of life? How do corporeal enmeshment among human and other bodies (such as fish, hormones, chemicals) refigure our understanding of sexual and reproductive bodies? This course examines how the biopolitical operations im/materialize through various forms of cultural practice – especially at the intersections of gender, sexuality, race, species, and disability. For the purpose, this course enters the conversation between feminist and queer theories and the theories of biopolitics, which traditionally concern the relevance of the biological life/death (and what exceeds such dichotomous conceptualization) to the realms of the political. We will pay particular attention to the entwinement between the biological, technological, and cultural as an important constituent of biopolitics, as most dramatically shown in – but not limited to – the emergence of bioarts and biomedia. From this perspective, the course explores a number of sites of cultural practice including performance, eating (and starving), tattoo, biometrics, prosthetics, reproductive technology, and graphic medicine as sites of feminist criticisms and creative interventions.


Marius Dragomir, Eva Bognar, 2 credits, School of Public Policy

This course is an introduction to the process of policymaking in the media. It consists of an introductory part: a short overview of the policymaking process in the field of media: it will identify the key actors that shape this process, their competences, power and influence and the impact their decisions have on media systems in general, and media organizations in particular. The course also aims to describe and problematize the tensions and conflicts that shape media policies, such as: public versus private interests, international versus national interests, and commercial versus social interests; and the impact of media-related policies on media organizations, on journalism, and ultimately, on society. In the second part of the course students will be invited to work on concrete problems and solutions related to media policy with input from various members of the CMDS.



Jeremy Braverman, 6-week course, 2 credit hours, School of Public Policy

An introductory documentary production course designed to fit the interests and needs of SFI students.  The successful execution of a documentary film requires intensive planning, organization and collaboration, and the course develops these skills which are essential to the SFI modules, along with providing students with a grounding in the craft of video production, and the creation of moving images, instructing them in basic skills that they can apply to their coursework and research, and beyond, in their careers.  These skills cover the primary phases of the video production process, including pre-production, cinematography, sound and editing.