VTP Course list 2019/20



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

FALL 2019

Ulrich Meurer (Department of History)
MA, 2 credits, Vienna

“It is a commonplace of modern cultural criticism“ – states W. J. T. Mitchell – “that images have a power in our world undreamed of by the ancient idolaters. And it seems equally evident that the question of the nature of imagery has been second only to the problem of language“. Although that nature is far from being clearly understood, the sheer force and multitude of contemporary images (as well as their controversial relation to the linguistic sign) pervade current notions of the visual, its theoretical basis, strategic use, social & political impact, or potential of knowledge ...

Against this background, the first part of the course will address several fundamental issues of the image: we will explore it as a specific type of sign which can both represent and replace physical/mental “reality,” but also as a form of expression or visual event in its own right. Following this, the seminar focuses on the functioning of images in selected cultural fields. It analyses their epistemological capacity for the production of (scientific) knowledge; their ability – e.g. as historical source material – to display, translate or reconstruct the past; and finally their entanglement with political representations of power and equality.

While the first section covers a comprehensive spectrum of theoretical reflections from Plato to the present, the subsequent examples will concentrate on photography, film and electronic media. Dealing with modern “techno- images” and their role in a limited set of discourses, the concrete case studies will, however, constantly return to essential questions of pictorial signification (including the differences and varying intersections between image and writing, between the iconic and the graphic) and of visual experience as “informational excess”.

Beyond illuminating the subject from these two angles and thereby delineating the many historical shifts and (inter-) media transformations of images, the course aims at deepening the participants’ critical awareness of their own reception and production of imagery. Since the “increasing impact of images on our culture” has become a veritable catchword, and since their dissemination goes hand in hand with the development of technical media, it is essential to re-examine our current idea of the image, the text, and their academic use – for instance by providing an opportunity for the students to create their own image-complexes.

Jeremy Braverman (Department of History, School of Public Policy, CEU Library) & Oksana Sarkisova (Blinken OSA, VSP) & Maria Stanisheva 
2 credits, Budapest, University-Wide Course 5014

This introductory documentary filmmaking course is designed to fit the interests and needs of students from a wide range of programs and departments. The course provides students a grounding in the craft of documentary filmmaking, and the creation of moving images, instructing them in fundamental skills that they can apply to projects in their respective research, 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.  Class sessions combine lecture on relevant concepts, viewing and analysis of documentary examples, technical instruction on equipment, hands-on exercises, and critique of class projects at each stage of completion.  Outside of class, working in small groups, students will complete the final project, a 5-8 minute documentary film, as well as two short, video-based exercises exploring and developing specific production skills. 


Vlad Naumescu & Jeremy Braverman (Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology)
4 credits, Budapest campus 

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. 

Dalia Neis (School of Public Policy)
2 credits, Budapest

The course acquaints students with the principles of visual language from a combined theory and practice perspective across a variety of media, with a focus on the film essay. 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.


FALL 2019

Viktor Lagutov, Katalin Szende, József Laszlovszky, Ruben Mnatsakanian
2 credits, Budapest, 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 

Hyaesin Yoon (Department of Gender Studies)
2 credits, Budapest

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. 

Radway, Robyn (Department of History)
2 credits, Vienna

This course offers a problem-oriented approach to the arts in a national context. Alternating between close analysis of selected representative examples and a critical approach to national self-representation in comparative perspective, it aims to introduce students to the creation and display of objects ranging from ancient sculptures to contemporary performance art in the service of the nation-state. Themes will include the fabrication of national traditions in textbooks, academies of art, national patronage, histories of collecting, museum policies and practices, world’s fairs, and cultural heritage preservation in Europe, the United States, and the Middle East. Students will be introduced to artworks from across the spectrum of production and consumption ranging from ancient sculptures to contemporary performance art in order to question how the nation-state has used objects to represent and control its self-image. Assigned readings of approximately 50 pages per class will be supplemented with a series of related images. While keeping in mind a set of questions listed on the syllabus, student led discussions will critically engage with the readings and with regional museums and collections in Budapest and Vienna. A central point of the course is to give participants the opportunity to gain hands-on experience with objects and modes of cataloguing and displaying them. This will include in-depth experience with museum software systems in week 5, a survey of regional exhibitions in week 6, and class convening in the Museum of Applied Arts (MAK) in Vienna during week 7. At the end of the course, participants will have the opportunity to present a topic of their choice relating to their final research paper. 

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

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. 

Kate Coyer & Jeremy Braverman (School of Public Policy)
4 credits, Budapest

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.  

Ana Peraica (Department of History)
MA, 2 credits, Budapest

The course Visual Culture: Theories and Methods overviews major theories and methodologies of interpretation in visual studies, paying a special attention to visual methods themselves. Starting with criticism of art history and reasons for foundation of visual studies and image science, the course surveys established art-historical  methods (e.g. iconographical analysis, compositional analysis), but also critical discourse analysis, narratology, digital humanities tools for biometric and photogrammetric analysis of visual artefacts and theories of post-digital image. Students are required to choose an artwork which they would interpret throughout the course and analyze it in a term paper. The course will assist students to decide on the appropriate method of analysis. The goal of the course is to familiarize the students with various interpretative approaches and to train skills for critical evaluation on the appropriateness of the method for a particular object of study.


Hyaesin Yoon (Department of Gender Studies)
4 credits, Budapest

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. 

András Edit (Department of History)
MA, 4 credits, Budapest

In turbulent times, artists have had various social roles and commitments to history, politics and ideology. These roles and commitments went far beyond the notion of their traditionally conceived role as visual entertainers, and as providers of pure aesthetic pleasure. The course will focus on modern, 19th and 20th century European history (with an emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe) through the lens of art. Participants will gain an understanding of how history is represented or invoked by state-sponsored official art, manifested in monuments and memorials in public space or by artefacts displayed in national museums in the service of a canonized historical narrative. In parallel, we will explore how this same history is interpreted or uncovered by socially committed, contemporary artists. 
The debated issue of cultivating, manipulating and erasing collective memory by changing place names, or by raising and demolishing monuments, will be scrutinized in connection to their historical roots. Radical and provocative artists’ interventions as well as the healing power of art and its ability to empower invisible or marginalized actors throughout history will also be part of the course. The trauma of the Holocaust, Socialism, and the recent process of re-nationalization of post-Socialist countries will be explored via close reading of artworks, and critical analyses of videos. The visual nature of ideologies, including Socialism and Nationalism, will be unveiled using both bottom-up and top-down perspectives. Thus, not just state-nationalism, but also everyday “private nationalism” will be considered. The popular genre of our days, historical reenactment as well as artistic reenactment will be analyzed and compared. The course will provide an interdisciplinary approach, combining the methods and perspectives of history, art history, visual, cultural and gender studies, as well as memory and nationalism studies, in order to provide a deep and nuanced understanding of specific historical phenomena, and how they operate behind the dry facts and dates. 

Marsha Siefert (Department of History)
MA, 4 credits, Budapest

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. 


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

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.   

NOTE: course is only open to SPP students.