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Visual & Critical Studies Chair

Last updated on Dec 07, 2018

Meet Jacqueline Francis

The Graduate Program in Visual and Critical Studies (VCS) provides interdisciplinary and culturally diverse framework within which to interpret the visual world. Emphasizing the social and political implications of visual objects, sites, and events, we train students who intend to write professionally about visual art and visual culture.

We strive to refine written and oral presentation skills, sharpen critical faculties, and further the development of innovative as well as traditional forms of research and critical expression. The range of challenging topics examined by our students at the annual thesis symposium and the conviction of their presentations inspire us.

On Diversity

Our program aspires to reflect the diversity of the communities in which California College of the Arts is embedded. This commitment to diversity informs our admissions and hiring practices as well as our curricular and extracurricular planning.

Each VCS course is conceived with attention to providing a range of perspectives reflecting the backgrounds and experiences of the culturally diverse student body we attract and serve.

Our curriculum equips students to critically analyze differential power dynamics within a global visual field. We think this is the most important education a student can receive in a global arena dominated by visual modes of information transmission.

On Interdisciplinarity

We offer students a rigorous and stimulating site for interdisciplinary investigation. Our core courses, electives, and programs attract students from all disciplines represented at the college. Moreover, the dual-degree option (in Fine Arts, Creative Writing, Curatorial Practice, and Design) sets Visual and Critical Studies at CCA apart from its rivals, uniting a range of perspectives and practices under one academic umbrella.

We complement opportunities for working across traditional disciplinary boundaries in the classroom with extracurricular programs of the highest quality.

Our Wednesday morning Forums, for instance, draw students and faculty together in an intimate, seminar-like setting, to converse with path-breaking scholars, artists, curators, and critics whose work models the creative possibilities that interdisciplinarity opens. Past Forum participants include José Esteban Muñoz, Nao Bustemante, Peggy Phelan, Simon Leung, Teresa de Lauretis, Linda Williams, Anne Wagner, Rita Gonzales, Shannon Jackson, and Jennifer Gonzalez.

In addition to our weekly Forums, we invite scholars, artists, activists, and students from various disciplines to focus on pressing social and cultural issues in the events that are open to the general public. Appearances by Judith Butler, Donna Haraway, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Guillermo Gomez-Pena, and Martin Berger packed the house.

Public roundtables and symposia we have sponsored include a "Feminist Art Today" roundtable; a colloquium exploring the "Holocaust Effect in Contemporary Art" (organized in collaboration with the Judah L. Magnes Museum, in Berkeley); a national symposium focusing on "The Arts and Environmental Ethics" (produced in collaboration with Stanford University); a roundtable titled "What Can a Body Do? Investigating Disability in Contemporary Art Disability and Art"; and an ongoing "Queer Conversations in Culture and Art" series (cosponsored by the Queer Cultural Center of San Francisco).

In these endeavors, we have collaborated with community organizations, arts institutions, and academic allies to strengthen connections across the disciplines at the college, foster relations with wider communities, and raise the profile of our program and its promising students.