Eye openers are flashes of insight. As an introduction to Visual Studies, this course will relate the historical and theoretical study of visual culture - from painting, photography, graphic design, architecture, and film - to contemporary life, popular culture, mass media, advertising, and communication. Topics we will discuss in class are the effect of consumer culture on our habits and surroundings (e.g. fast food; suburbia; the mall); the impact of communication technologies such as computer and television on our understanding of and approach towards the world; the question of identity in subcultures and as it is expressed in visual media such as zines and comics (e.g. Art Spiegelman's Maus); and the effect of the politics of art collecting, display, and the art market on contemporary artists. The goal of this class is to develop techniques of critical analysis and interpretation of visual phenomena and to learn to understand the complex social, cultural and political power structures that govern them.