The undergraduate minor in visual culture encompasses the study of art history, film, media, and scientific images. Spanning a wide range of historical periods and geographic locations, visual culture courses have as their unifying concern the enduring significance of images and image making, practices of looking, and visual experience.
Students who choose to minor in visual culture will develop the visual literacy needed to excel in a world increasingly defined by images and their associated social, cultural, and political formations. They will learn both the history of images that humans may have been looking at for hundreds or even thousands of years and the provenance, location, and nature of the images we see now in our everyday lives. Through courses offered by artists and artists-in-residence, students will have the opportunity to learn about the materials and techniques that define image practices today. Across all visual culture courses, they will develop essential writing and speaking skills that will enable them to communicate not just about images but in whatever career path they choose. Finally, for science and engineering students, visual culture courses offer an opportunity to reflect upon the practices of observation, methods of close visual analysis, and long-standing significance of visualization and visual instruments across scientific culture, including in the science classes and laboratories at Caltech.
Looking beyond campus, visual culture courses often make use of the resources of local art and media institutions such as The Huntington Library, Art Museum, and Botanical Gardens, offering students an opportunity to get away from their residences and labs to apply the skills learned in class to real settings in the local community.