Semiotics and Pedagogy: Teaching Visual Thinking to Studio, Graphic Design and Art History Students

By Liliana Leopardi.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper outlines the development of a sophomore core course, Art 295: Visual Thinking, designed to introduce students to semiotics as a critical tool to analyze visual material, and to foster a lively dialogue among studio, graphic design and art history majors. The course aimed at pushing students beyond their inclination to approach images from a singular perspective: historical, artistic or commercial. Semiotics were used to make students realize that images constitute a system of signs ruled by a common internal and external code both in art and graphic design, and that artistic and commercial categories were not implicitly mutually exclusive.
Drawing heavily from the practical experience in the classroom, this paper addresses the pedagogical successes in bridging disciplines’ boundaries and in training students to think critically about their role as active viewers who construct meaning.

Keywords: Pedagogy, Semiotics, Visual Culture

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp.209-214. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.188MB).

Dr. Liliana Leopardi

Art , Art History, Chapman University, Orange, CA, USA

Liliana Leopardi has earned a BA and a Master in Psychology, as well as a MA in Art History and a Ph.D. in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University. Given her early eduction, Dr. Leopardi is deeply committed to a student-focused teaching mission and always strives to create a vibrant and stimulating learning atmosphere in the classroom. Her current research interests lie in reframing the use of ornament in Renaissance paintings, conceiving it as an autonomous stylistic order that completes and signifies the visual representation. She also works on the construction of masculinity in the Renaissance, and on fetishism and the relationship between word and image in such texts as the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili.

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