UNL students in Japan studying visual culture


Eighteen students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln are studying Japanese visual culture in Kyoto and Tokyo during UNL's three-week session of summer classes that ends June 4. The course is a partnership between the Department of Art and Art History in the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts and the College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

"Japanese Visual Culture in Context" is team-taught by UNL professors Frauke Hachtmann and Dana Fritz. Hachtmann, who has led study-abroad courses to Germany, is an associate professor of advertising. Fritz, who has been teaching in the visual literacy program since its inception in 1998, is an associate professor of art. Their backgrounds in art and advertising bring together two important aspects of visual culture.

"Visual literacy -- the ability to 'read' images -- is considered by many to be one of the essential skills for the 21st century," Hachtmann said. "We hope that studying visual culture in a country that is so different from the United States will increase students' awareness of global issues and teach them to analyze and interpret information without necessarily speaking or understanding Japanese."

Students, who participated in a brief pre-departure introduction to methods of observation and Japanese culture, will sharpen perceptual and analytical skills through daily drawing, writing and photography while in Japan. They will visit one of the most successful global advertising agencies to learn how culture is expressed visually in advertising, including visits to some of the most significant cultural sites in Japan to study fine art.

"We're excited to have such a diverse group of students," Fritz said. "Their various majors and backgrounds are well-suited to the visual and cultural focus of the course. They all have long-standing interests in Japan and half of them have taken courses in Japanese language. However, this is the first time each of them will experience Japanese visual culture and language in its native context."

While in Japan students are writing about their experiences abroad in a blog at http://jvcic.blogspot.com

More details at: http://go.unl.edu/kpz