Teaching Cultural and Visual Literacy in an Age of Naïveté, Terror and Information Sickness
Ignorance of historical culture and the nature of contemporary arts and culture is rife. Universities are conferring degrees upon a population of citizens without an ability to critically evaluate the very cultural milieus they inhabit. Today’s university students often have a veneer of sophistication, acquired through popular culture, but little awareness of where its signifiers have originated. Students have unprecedented access to media — and often posses the latest technological tools — but are not aware of how passive their role in our culture is.
Today’s humanities and arts teachers require new methodologies to encourage critical thinking and critical consumption of media and culture. Within the large classes that have become commonplace in institutions of higher education, techniques for engaging students in active dialogue are vital. This presentation will illustrate specific techniques that allow the meshing of historical and contemporary cultural issues into humanities, general education and foundation level art curricula. Techniques for integrating contemporary concerns, such as war and peace and disasters of all kinds, into historical studies will be included.
Keywords: Cultural Literacy, Visual Literacy, Humanities, Historical and Contemporary Art Issues
Prof. Paul R. Solomon
Director of Direct Encounter with the Arts; Associate Professor, School of Art