Media, Culture and Visual Communication in Asia and Mediterranean Africa

Objectives and contents 

The course will guide students through a multiplicity of forms of communication and expressions, both in the arts and media, in some regions of Asia and Mediterranean Africa, to compose a geo-cultural puzzle that draws traditions and local reality together, able to illustrate the transformations of these areas and their integration in global society. Art, cinema and the internet are not only a reflection of complex cultural systems and a window into ancient civilization in continuous evolution, but they are also channels through which they can become protagonists to the current global scene in terms of politics or economics.  The aim of the module is to provide students with various disciplinary sources for basic understand, and tools to understand the communication strategies and the figurative and visual languages used in asian society for self-representation and to have a relationship with the world.

The lectures will provide the illustration of case studies, with film projections and use of audiovisual material.

Module 1
Aims to offer a basic training of the world of audiovisual media in Arabic countries, adopting an interdisciplinary approach in relation to the processes of historic-cultural change in the contemporary and modern era. The course is divided into four specific fields:

  • the path of Arabic journalism from the printing press to digital media, or even from the birth of the printer in the modern age (80s) to the impact of satellite television and new media in contemporary Arab society.
  • the transformation of fictional and documentary cinema as an instrument of propaganda and a vehicle for expression pluralism in artistic forms and trends, from Mashreq to Maghreb as well as the cinematographic industry and the audiovisual market in the Arabic world.
  • the arrival of the internet and new media, with the birth of the Arabic blogosphere, web 2.0, the impact of new mass-media in the 2011 revolution, their potential and limits, and relationships with power
  • the relationship between Media and Islam, the impact of the media on the Islamic community, private religious satellite channels, the new media and umma 2.0, a reinvented conception of da’wa (propaganda) indoctrination and jihad.

Module 2
Offers an introduction to the visual culture of the Islamic world that will aim to explore a broad chronology of from the 7th Century to the 21st Century, with a thematic and chronological approach and specific attention at pictorial production. The course is sub-divided into four parts:

  • In the first part it will confront the training process of a visual culture of the Islamic world, with a focus on the traditions from which it is inspired, and an analysis of the elements of innovation, from the definition of a new religious space to the development of a new court culture.
  • The second part will propose a panorama of art that continues to change at the various courts of the Islamic world, with a selection of specific, in-depth analysis that will illustrate the new elaborate models and their use.
  • In the third part attention will be put on some aspects of artistic production that will take shape outside of the exclusive space of the court, looking at the lively exchanges with the eastern and western world in a special way that played an important role in the continuous evolution of a visual culture of the various areas of interest.
  • Finally, the fourth part will examine the impact of colonialism and orientalism on the artistic production of some specific areas of the Islamic world, up until the formation of a modern and contemporary art.

Thus the student will acquire a serious of basic notions that examines the formation and evolution of a visual culture in the Islamic world, and will be able to refine the critical necessary tools to understand both this and the most recent developments.

Module 3
Proposes to offer students some perspectives to theoretical approach through the investigation into Asian cinema in a transnational key. Cinema is thus understood as a term that encapsulates the variety of the forms that audiovisual production has taken on in the last 20 years, and includes the intended contents for online use and all the ways in which the production of images are differentiated. From pan-Asian co-production projects to micro-films intended for mobile use, the analysis of cinema in Asia allows us to deal with an ample range of themes through the immediacy of the image. Some themes include: the economic dynamics and the cultural flow that ties China-Korea with South Japan; different political practices (in some cases close to the “soft power” dynamics) that involve the production and distribution of film in both Asia and the global market, and the transition through a global aesthetic versus those that, for the long term, are analyzed as national cinematography. In line with the most advanced international studies of the sector of cinema in relation to the political and social changes and in direct contact with producing and distributing audiovisual work, the course provides students with a historic-thematic base that are key to the reading most directly linked with cinema practice (as well as in a professional environment), steering them towards the principle moments in which the audiovisual industry is organized: production, circulation and distribution.

Student requirements

This Minor is aimed to students on all degree programmes at the University except for the degree programme in Language, culture and society of Asia and Mediterranean Africa.
There is no maximum number of participants.

Modules that make up the Minor

Academic year 2017/2018