Required text

Scott McCloud, Understanding Comics: The Invisible Art (1994: Harper Paperbacks).

To help you with this challenging book, read this chapter-by-chapter outline.

Lecture notes

Part 1: Sensual theories of perception

  1. Media Literacy (PDF).
  2. Discovering Psychology: Part 7, Sense and Perception (video).
  3. Gestalt theory of perception (PDF).

Part 2: Cognitive theories of perception

  1. Semiotics: The Theory Behind Media Literacy (PDF).
  2. Stuart Hall, Representation and the Media (PDF transcript).
  3. The Uses of Art (HTML).

Part 3: Tropes, genre, intertextuality

  1. Tropes: A special type of signifier (PDF).
  2. Intertextuality (HTML).
  3. Photographic genres (HTML)

Part 4: Composition basics and typography

  1. The basic elements of visual communication (PDF).
  2. Perspective
  3. Marvel Comics on drawing technique. (PDF)
  4. The origins of typography (PDF).
  5. The basic elements of typography (PDF).
  6. Ian Parker, Absolute Powerpoint: Can a software package edit our thoughts? The New Yorker, May 28, 2001.
  7. Edward Tufte, PowerPoint Does Rocket Science

Part 5: Photography and the truthful image

  1. The origins of photography (HTML)
  2. A timeline of photographic development (HTML)
  3. William Mitchell, “Intention and Artifice,” (PDF) Chapter 3 in The Reconfigured Eye: Visual Truth in the Post-Photographic Era (Cambridge, Mass., 2001: The MIT Press).
  4. EDFAT: How to improve your photography in one easy lesson (PDF).
  5. Laura Collins, Pixel Perfect: Pascal Dangin’s virtual reality. (PDF) The New Yorker, May 12, 2008.

Part 6: The moving image

  1. Montage (HTML)
  2. Mise en Scène (HTML)
  3. “Art Direction” and “Cinematography” in Robert L. Carringer, The Making of Citizen Kane (Berkeley, 1997: University of California Press).

Part 7: Advertising and the ever-present image

Other readings

Selected film clips


Other resources, references