The Art of Resistance (SIGNATURE COURSE)

Course Code
ARTS 1559
Lydia Moyer
Associate Professor
Mona Kasra
Assistant Professor

From hand-lettered signs to Instagram drawings to TikTok videos, what is the role of powerful visual statements in today’s protest movements? What motivates protesters in their choices of visual communication and modes of media dissemination? How is creative resistance designed and formed, and from what iconography, symbols, and visual meanings does it draw? This course will focus on the role of the contemporary visual culture in staging social movements and the ways in which grassroots activists employ visually-oriented practices as a means of political resistance and collective mobilization. Drawing connections between a wide variety of recent protests and uprisings in the US and around the world, we will explore how 21st-century citizens articulate and express their political voice through a variety of text, visual, and graphics, such as digital images, memes, posters, t-shirts, and murals. We will especially look at how protesters harness the speed and immediacy of social media and digital technologies to raise awareness about critical social, cultural, and political issues of our time, such as racial injustice, human rights, COVID-19 pandemic, the environment, and climate change. This course emphasizes exploration, creativity, collaboration, and student-centered learning through readings, multimedia presentations, discussions, workshops, and guest lectures. Guest lectures will include activists, artists, and protesters from recent social movements such as Black Lives Matter, Appalachians Against Pipelines, and Extinction Rebellion, many of whom have connections to local Charlottesville and surrounding Virginia communities. Students will be evaluated based on reflective writing assignments on course content and a collaborative project-based final assignment. Lydia Moyer (Professor, Department of Art) is a visual artist and media maker whose creative work engages with radical thought through visual means including democratic multiples like posters and zines. Mona Kasra’s (Assistant Professor, Department of Drama) research trajectory involves exploring the confluence of media technologies, art, and culture and reflecting on the impact of emerging media on personal, political, and creative expression. Her recent publications have examined political and theoretical questions about the power of online images in our digital culture and cross-culturally.