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ARTH 448 Advanced Seminar in Art and Film: Haunting and the Atmospheric in Art and Culture

  • Tuesdays, 2:45 - 5:15pm
  • EV 3.760
  • Instructor: Dr. May Chew

The course explores haunting and the atmospheric in contemporary art, media, and culture to reflect on how objects, bodies, media, and environments carry latent energies and histories that are usually felt but not immediately seen. In Ghostly Matters, Avery Gordon proposed haunting as a trope which, rather than signalling absence or disavowal, acknowledges that the spectral is a “seething presence” refusing to be laid to rest. Haunting allows us to articulate how things linger, no matter the efforts to erase them. It also offers us ways to think and speak about the violences that society often attempts to repress, including those borne of ongoing histories of colonialism, racism, and capitalist exploitation. Meanwhile, the more recent “atmospheric turn” in media studies, design, and cultural theory prods us to ask: Why the turn to atmosphere now? What does grappling with the ineffable forces “in the air” allow us to begin to name and understand?The atmospheric also draws our attention to the porous boundaries between human and nonhuman, or the entanglement between bodies, objects, and environments. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, this course focuses on how the ineffable is conveyed aesthetically, linguistically, culturally, and politically. Through the prism of art, film, media, and design, we examine how haunting and the atmospheric might offer us languages and methodologies to wrestle with the often invisible or hard-to-define impress of power in our everyday. 


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