Teaching

Throughout my career, I have taught lecture and seminar courses on modern and contemporary art, the history of photography, and aesthetic theory. The general framework that governs all my teaching has to do with getting students to examine modern art in relation to other forms of cultural representation as well as in relation to questions of identity, society, technology, and history. The visual, I strive to teach my students, is a central aspect of their lives. It is a sense by which they imbibe significant quantities of information about themselves, others, and the worlds in which they live—often without carefully evaluating the messages that they receive in this way. By stressing visual acuity and theoretical sophistication, my courses are designed to make students more aware and critical of the messages that they receive from art and visual culture. In addition, they are also crafted to give students a sense of the work of art as an extremely rich cultural artifact, one that is susceptible to a multiplicity of different forms of analysis. By introducing students to various important bodies of theory and methodology, I attempt to develop in them skills of interpretation—strategies for analyzing, contextualizing, and theorizing visual and material forms. Just as centrally, I endeavor to improve their ability to write, research, and think clearly and in a rigorous way. Theory, students learn, is not an end in itself, but a means of asking certain kinds of questions of concrete and socially rooted works of art and culture. And while the meanings of historical artifacts are always multiple, interpretations, they learn, are not inexhaustible, and they can be best formed and developed by investigators who are well versed in (but not dogmatic about) a variety of different interpretive techniques and practices.