Skip Navigation

Visual Studies

Carleton courses offer many opportunities to explore, create, interpret, and employ visual images, media, and models. You can find courses across the curriculum that will sharpen your abilities to communicate, make arguments, present ideas, conduct research, and otherwise use visual materials to express ideas and knowledge.

Art and Art History, Geology, and Cinema and Media Studies offer courses that are all (or virtually all) deeply engaged with the visual. Please check the department listings for the full range of these courses.

It is always a good idea to check with the individual professor about the visual content of any class: content and assignments vary and sometimes courses are offered by different professors who may or may not choose to highlight visual modes of thought and analysis.

AMST 225: Beauty and Race in America

In this class we consider the construction of American beauty historically, examining the way whiteness intersects with beauty to produce a dominant model that marginalizes women of color. We study how communities of color follow, refuse, or revise these beauty ideals through literature. We explore events like the beauty pageant, material culture such as cosmetics, places like the beauty salon, and body work like cosmetic surgery to understand how beauty is produced and negotiated.
Offered Spring 2020

AMST 230: The American Sublime: Landscape, Character & National Destiny in Nineteenth Century America

Focusing on the early nineteenth century struggle to create an American nation and a national culture, we will look at the ways Americans adopted and adapted European ideas, particularly the aesthetic idea of the Sublime, in their attempt to come to terms with the conquest of the new land and its native inhabitants and with the nature of their national enterprise. Writers Irving, Cooper, Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Melville, Whitman, and Dickinson and painters Cole, Bierstadt, Church, Kensett, and Lane will be included. Major themes will include attitudes towards landscape and settlement, a distinctively American character, the nature and utility of art, and ideas of American empire.
Offered Fall 2019

AMST 240: The Midwest and the American Imagination

The history of American culture has always been shaped by a dialectic between the local and the universal, the regional and the national. The particular geography and history of the Midwest (the prairie, the plains, the old Northwest, Native Americans and white adventurers, settlers and immigrants) have shaped its livelihoods, its identities, its meanings. Focusing on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this course will explore literature, art history, and the social and cultural history of the Midwest.
Not offered 2019-2020

BIOL 342: Animal Developmental Biology

An analysis of animal development from fertilization to the establishment of the adult body form. Lectures and discussions will examine the key processes of animal embryogenesis, as well as the molecular and cellular mechanisms that control these developmental processes.
Offered Spring 2020

BIOL 343: Animal Developmental Biology Laboratory

Laboratory will introduce descriptive and experimental embryological techniques using a variety of model organisms.
Not offered 2019-2020

CHEM 233: Organic Chemistry I & Lab

Theoretical aspects of carbon chemistry are examined with reference to structure-reactivity relationships, functional groups, stereochemistry, reaction mechanisms and spectroscopy. Laboratory work concentrates on modern techniques of organic chemistry, inquiry-based projects, and spectroscopic analysis. One laboratory per week.
Offered Fall 2019, Winter 2020

CS 111: Introduction to Computer Science

This course will introduce you to computer programming and the design of algorithms. By writing programs to solve problems in areas such as image processing, text processing, and simple games, you will learn about recursive and iterative algorithms, complexity analysis, graphics, data representation, software engineering, and object-oriented design. No previous programming experience is necessary. Students who have received credit for Computer Science 201 or above are not eligible to enroll in Computer Science 111.
Offered Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020

ENGL 247: The American West

Wallace Stegner once described the West as "the geography of hope" in the American imagination. Despite various dystopian urban pressures, the region still conjures up images of wide vistas and sunburned optimism. We will explore this paradox by examining both popular mythic conceptions of the West (primarily in film) and more searching literary treatments of the same area. We will explore how writers such as Twain, Cather, Stegner and Cormac McCarthy have dealt with the geographical diversity and multi-ethnic history of the West. Weekly film showings will include The Searchers, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, Unforgiven, and Lone Star. Extra Time Required, evening screenings.
Not offered 2019-2020

ENGL 248: Visions of California

An interdisciplinary exploration of the ways in which California has been imagined in literature, art, film and popular culture from pre-contact to the present. We will explore the state both as a place (or rather, a mosaic of places) and as a continuing metaphor--whether of promise or disintegration--for the rest of the country. Authors read will include Muir, Steinbeck, Chandler, West, and Didion. Weekly film showings will include Sunset Boulevard, Chinatown and Blade Runner.
Offered Winter 2020

ENGL 277: London Program: London Studies Project

Students will develop and demonstrate their knowledge of London through the design and production of a self-designed project, based on a particular London site of the student’s choice. This can be a creative or analytic project and will be shared with the group at the end of the term.
Not offered 2019-2020

ENGL 327: Victorian Novel

Puzzled about nineteenth century novels, Henry James asks, 'But what do such large loose baggy monsters with their queer elements of the accidental and the arbitrary, artistically mean?'' (“Preface,” The Tragic Muse). What, indeed? Practicing close reading, surface reading, and distant reading, we will examine the prose, design, and illustrations of Victorian editions, and ask how big data might help us define and interpret the nineteenth century novel. Authors might include George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Emily Bronte, Charlotte Bronte, E.M. Forster, Lewis Carroll.
Offered Fall 2019

ENGL 328: Victorian Poetry

Victorian poets are prolific, challenging, inventive, and deeply engaged with the intersection of words and visual images in poetry, painting, and photography. We will read the competing aesthetic theories that frame their art, and study works by Alfred Tennyson, Robert Browning, Oscar Wilde, Matthew Arnold, Dante Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Gerard Manley Hopkins, and others.
Not offered 2019-2020

ENGL 362: Narrative Theory

"Does the world really present itself to perception in the form of well-made stories?" asks Hayden White, metahistoriographer. To try to answer that question, we will read contemporary narrative theory by critics from several disciplines and apply their theories to literary texts, films, and cultural objects such as graphic novels, television shows, advertisements, and music videos.
Not offered 2019-2020

ENTS 120: Introduction to Geospatial Analysis & Lab

Spatial data analysis using Geographic Information Systems (GIS), remote sensing, global positioning, and related technologies are increasingly important for understanding and analyzing a wide range of biophysical, social, and economic phenomena. This course serves as an overview and introduction to the concepts, algorithms, issues, and methods in describing, analyzing, and modeling geospatial data over a range of application areas.
Offered Fall 2019

ENTS 254: Topics in Landscape Ecology

Landscape ecology is an interdisciplinary field that combines the spatial approach of the geographer with the functional approach of the ecologist to understand the ways in which landscape composition and structure affects ecological processes, species abundance, and distribution. Topics include collecting and referencing spatial data at broad scales, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), landscape metrics, simulating change in landscape pattern, landscape connectivity and meta-population dynamics, and reserve design.
Offered Winter 2020

ENTS 287: Climate Science

In this course, we will explore the state of the science of the modern global climate. The course will include a discussion of the impact of greenhouse gases and aerosol particles on the global climate system, and attention will be paid to understanding global cycles as well as global climate models. In order to understand the underlying science, geoengineering schemes to "fix" the global climate system will be investigated. Throughout the course, our emphasis will be on a quantitative, scientifically rigorous understanding of the complex climate system.
Not offered 2019-2020

HIST 137: Early Medieval Worlds

Through the intensive exploration of a variety of distinct "worlds" in the early Middle Ages, this course offers an introduction to formative political, social, religious, and cultural developments in Europe between c.300 and c.1050. We will pay special attention to the structures, ideologies, practices, and social dynamics that shaped and energized communities large and small.  We will also focus on developing the ability to observe and interpret various kinds of textual, visual, and material primary sources. 
Not offered 2019-2020

HIST 232: Renaissance Worlds in France and Italy

Enthusiasm, artistry, invention, exploration.... How do these notions of Renaissance culture play out in sources from the period? Using a range of evidence (historical, literary, and visual) from Italy and France in the fourteenth-sixteenth centuries we will explore selected issues of the period, including debates about the meaning of being human and ideal forms of government and education; the nature of God and mankind's duties toward the divine; the family and gender roles; definitions of beauty and the goals of artistic achievement; accumulation of wealth; and exploration of new worlds and encounters with other peoples.
Not offered 2019-2020

SOAN 256: Africa: Representation and Conflict

Pairing classics in Africanist anthropology with contemporary re-studies, we explore changes in African societies and in the questions anthropologists have posed about them. We address issues of representation and self-presentation in written ethnographies as well as in African portrait photography. We then turn from the visual to the invisible realm of African witchcraft. Initiation rituals, war, and migration place selfhood and belonging back in this-world contexts. In-depth case studies include, among others: the Cameroon Grassfields, the Bemba of Zambia, and the Nuer of South Sudan.
Offered Spring 2020