Course Descriptions

Fall 2018 courses

*All 300-level core and elective courses are open to second-year students with permission of the instructor.

CND 103 Urban Experience

This introductory course is designed to open up students to the context in which they live, research, work and play. Through exercises in individual and group-led observation, students will be encouraged to reflect on the diversity of places and communities around them. This course also introduces students to a practice-based, hands-on approach to the elements and principles of design–including point, line and plane, figure and ground, scale, pattern and texture. Students will learn the sensory and perceptual theories in communication and design; this will be complimented by fieldtrips to designated areas of Karachi allowing exposure to the specific dynamics of the city. The course will culminate in a concept and/or a design-based and site-specific visual intervention in the city. Saima Zaidi and Muqeem Khan

CND 105 Shaping Modernity: Art & Thought in the 19th Century

This course will introduce students to major developments in art, literature, design, and media communication during the long 19th century. While the course focuses on both formal and substantive close readings of individual texts, the essay and research assignments require both comparative and interdisciplinary methodological approaches to the study of cultural production and dissemination. Students investigate how different forms and practices of art ‘speak’ to one another, how they argue or agree, how they diverge from or conform to normative criteria. In this regard, one of the central aims of this course is to assess the cultural and technological impact of imperialism in South Asia, and the reciprocal appropriations of South Asian philosophy, culture, and art by Europeans. Themes explored include post-enlightenment reason vs. passion, the emergence of media spectacle as an urban phenomenon, the stylistic shift in European aesthetic practice and production from neoclassical to realist, the establishment of Urdu literary culture, the development of political journalism, the rise of the modern university, the emergence of culture as a differentiated category and the explicit articulation of aesthetic criteria as the basis for judgment and taste, the impact of technologies of reproduction (the gramophone, the camera, the typewriter) on the production of music, fine art, and literature, and the deliberate rethinking and reconfiguration of urban space. TBD

CND 126 Communication and Culture

This course will introduce students to important concepts in communication and cultural studies. We will consider various multidisciplinary traditions of communication theory, and examine closely the range of overlapping and opposing insights these frames of thinking provide. We will explore how cultures determine forms of language and patterns of communication and how these in turn shape cultural practices. By doing so we will develop a more complex understanding of the impact of communication on the formation of our ideas of culture and society. We will study rhetoric, semiotics, language, the social construction of knowledge, and non-verbal and visual forms communication, with specific emphasis on how these forms of communicative practices shape how we think, who we are, and how others see us. Rahma Mian

CND 135 Introduction to Film Production

The course will introduce students to learn the fundamentals of cinematic language including various techniques and processes of film production in preparation for more advanced film courses. The course is organized through a series of exercises which will help students explore a variety of cinematic methods through hands on practice with film equipment including the camera, lights, sound, and editing software. Umair Bilal

CND 226 Thinking Media

This course is designed for students who have already been introduced to basic concepts of media theory in their 1st year. It looks at the different stages of media theory as well as its predecessors in philosophy and relates them to the media evolution from language to writing to print to the media situation of today.
Students will learn different possibilities of conceptualizing and historicizing media in relation to society. Starting with the broadest possible definition of medium as the difference of loosely/strictly coupled elements, they will be introduced to different media types and concepts, from storage media to dissemination to success media. The paradigm of communications i.e. media revolutions will act as a guideline that allows for distinguishing society in different media stages, while always keeping the possibility of alternative chronologies in mind. Starting with the invention of language and its consequences for the evolution of human beings, we will first take a closer look at persons as media, explore the social consequences of writing, as well as the effects of the switch from scriptography to typography, study the idea of media infrastructure in relation to the development of the development of the modern nation-state, and finally try to apply that knowledge to the ongoing digital transformation of society.
One important aspect will be the question of media materiality, especially in relation to the trend of ‚new materialism.’ Markus Heidingsfelder

CND 242 Feminist Technology

According to Judy Wajcman (Feminist theories of technology, Cambridge Journal of Economics, January 2010), a feminist perspective shifts and expands our understanding of what technology is and incudes not just artefacts but also the cultures and practices associated with technologies. This course then attempts to introduce students to feminist theory, where it intersects with technology and the social, political and cultural implications of those intersections. We will begin by exploring feminist epistemology and philosophy of science and the evolution of feminist theories of technology. In the latter half of the course we will focus on key themes emerging in feminist technologies and media particularly over the last decade. Students will be encouraged to develop multimedia projects that explore these interdisciplinary boundaries particularly around gender power relations. Rahma Mian

CND 225 Frankfurt and Beyond

This course will study some of the 20th century’s most overtly mistrustful theoretical reflections on mass media culture, and it will do so by focusing on the most vociferously mistrustful of them all: Frankfurt School. However, on the other hand, this inspection on the Frankfurt School will be close enough to reveal, within the FS body of thought itself, a hypothesis more or less lurking in the ideas of these theorists and between the lines of their texts, namely that mass media culture can harbor a secretly emancipatory potential for the masses that needs to be properly unearthed and valorized by critical theory.

This is why the course will not focus on Frankfurt School alone. It will also cover those theoretical reflections on media that variously emerged in FS’s wake, such as Media Cultural Studies, Guy Debord’s critique of “The Spectacle” and Giorgio Agamben’s notion of “Apparatus”; in these and other cases, the original (if somewhat implicit) ambivalence of FS vis-à-vis mass media culture, well-concealed beneath its “apocalyptic” attitude, is properly brought to the fore, highlighting the oppressive and emancipatory potential of mass media culture to be inextricably intertwined. Marco Grosoli

CND 231 Film History and Theory II

This is the second of two Film History and Theory courses spread over two consecutive semesters, and will cover the second half of the twentieth century as well as the early 21st. The course will consistently alternate between, and tightly intertwine, History and Theory; on the one hand it will introduce a number of theoretical frameworks that emerged in the decades that followed World War II (realist film theories; structuralism; gender theory; psychoanalysis etc.) and that are still essential to reach a full-fledged understanding of cinema, while on the other hand it will describe how, after Hollywood’s Golden Age (which peaked arguably in the late 1940s), cinema’s main lines of evolution have ventured into previously uncharted territory: European “art cinema”, to be sure, but also (and especially) non-Western cinemas, now gaining more and more importance. The scope of the course will thus be accordingly enlarged to encompass as much as possible what is customarily called “World Cinema.” Marco Grosoli

CND 221 Braver New Worlds

This course will introduce students to key topics and themes in digital media and networked technologies and examine how technology intersects with cultural, social and political values. We will investigate digital media production in a cultural, historical, economic and technological context. By doing so we will be able to situate ourselves in this particular moment in history and take a critical look at the ubiquitous content that we are consuming as well as producing. Along with reading key texts and acquainting ourselves with key thinkers in the areas of cultural production, critical theory and digital politics, we will be watching a lot of videos and spending a good amount of time on the internet! Rahma Mian

CND 240 Film Editing: Theory and Practice

This course will introduce students to the history, theory and practice of film editing. Through analysis of various films and written texts, the students will understand the grammar of film editing. They will get a hands-on practical editing experience through creating and editing individual short films. Umair Bilal

CND 276 Introduction to 3D Animation

This introductory course focuses on the content creation from a three-dimensional digital environment and camera-based production techniques. The class instructions will introduce the related concepts, such as 3D modeling, lighting, rendering, narrative structure, pacing, and compositing. In this introductory course, students will develop knowledge and skills as they learn about and produce computer-generated 3D elements in the realm of VFX and broadcast animation. A good understanding of motion and timing, as well as a sense of observation will be critical in this class. Students will also develop awareness related to the audiences’ perceptual/emotional needs, digital asset management (DAM) and production methodology. The assignments may include ambiguous/unambiguous reconstructions of physical realities, simple 3D visual narratives, and VFX related experimentations. Muqeem Khan

CND 301 TransDesign Practicum

This practicum will provide the intellectual and contextual background for the transdisciplinary practice. The nature and practices of design have been shifting to engage with increasingly complex cultural, technological, and economic forces. Traditional, narrow design disciplines no longer seem adequate to address complexity and the “wicked problems” that challenge a 24/7, global culture. Exploring these changes both historically and critically, this course will contextualize both the pressures to maintain specialization in design and the forces that are currently challenging the disciplines. What does it mean for design to address the immaterial as an outcome? Can experience and social outcomes actually be modeled through design, or are design outcomes simply affordances for existing social practices? This practicum will explore literature and projects that argue that design can play a role in reshaping our cultural practices. We will investigate not only theory, but also design case studies that have had a profound, though at times subtle impact on our changing social dynamics. The main work of the class will be the readings, presentations and discussions, supplemented by a practice-based intensive and a mid-semester charrette. Each student will be expected to lead course discussions, and to make presentations in class based on the readings. Gulraiz Khan

CND 331 DIY City: Design Inquiry

IThis course offers students the techniques of place-making; a process of creating spaces for civic engagement. In a rapidly corporatized world, place- making offers a radical tool to reclaim and create new public spaces for our cities in order to encourage community living and participation. The course teaches students some of the key conceptual frameworks of space- making and urban forms. Part of the course requires students to take field trips in various localities of the city, exploring the ways in which public generates their own sense of place. Students will develop prototypes/projects designed by utilizing readily available materials, technologies and localized manufacturing; these will be placed in the public realm in Karachi for creative interaction. Working at the intersection of design, culture, science and technology, students will learn innovative, experimental, and playful ways of integrating academic knowledge with public practices, and the abstract with the material. Saima Zaidi

CND 404 New Media Art Studio

This is an introductory course to New Media art practice and the larger field of Screen/Time-based Art. Classes will alternate between theory, studio and critiques. This course aims to acquaint students with the history of New Media art as a field of contemporary art practice as well as develop their own artistic vocabulary by experimenting with various media. We will consider multiple forms and media from Video Art and Experimental Film to Sound Art and Net Art; from the more traditional technologies of film, video and photography to newer digital, web and transmission technologies, as well as daily mundane technologies such as video and computer games, surveillance cameras, GPS devices etc. that have been engaged widely in New Media Art practices. We will survey key themes and gestures in New Media art from appropriation to hacktivism, from performance to data visualization, from post/transhumanism to technologies of war. Students will incorporate these themes into their own practices in four art projects spread out across the semester. Zahra Malkani

CND 411 Psyches and Organizations

Organizations play an important role in today’s society. This was not always the case. The European system of estates only included a few organization-like entities: mercantile families like the German Fuggers, the Hanseatic League, mercenary armies, guilds, towns, the Catholic church. Our contemporary age, in contrast, is characterized by a profusion of this type of social system. In this course, we will examine the impact of these ‘inescapabilities’ on our psyche from a sociological perspective by first constructing a problem to which organizations can be interpreted as a solution, in order to then take a closer look at the construction of that solution. The central idea is that the modern psyche cannot be understood without reference to this type of social system. Markus Heidingsfelder

CND 491 Design Research: Capstone I Seminar

This class asks students to acquire a critical knowledge of the complicated relationship between concepts and ideas and its transformation into a practice-based research proposal. The course introduces students to the concept of searching for and isolating problems in their physical world. They will be asked to present a technology-based product or process in the form of a research proposal. The instruction in the class facilitates their research proposals, develops an understanding of relevant practice based research, refines research approaches and methods, investigates their hypothesis and improves their research skills. The goal is to provide an environment for third-year students to explore and develop the research paradigm necessary for the graduating year at Habib University. This course also provides an opportunity to conduct background research related to a specific problem, complete a formal proposal, and present their work. By the end of the semester, students will have a better understanding of their isolated problems/concepts/ideas in the context of multitier-trans-disciplinary curiosities. Muqeem Khan

Spring 2019 Courses

CND 106 Forms of Inquiry – Word and Image in the 20th Century

This course provides a conceptual framework for several major developments in the arts and humanities extending from the close of the 19th century to the present. It will introduce students to texts, movements, and thinkers, with a focus on reciprocal influences, appropriations, and resulting hybrid forms that characterize much South Asian, European and American aesthetic work. Traversing between the two halves of the 20th century, this course explores various kinds of modernisms and avant-gardes in design, literature, cinema and visual arts, and the consequences of World War II on them. In addition, it examines the multiple ways arts have tackled political engagement and propaganda, and taken part in the progressive loss of centrality of the West in the global arena. It focuses on nation-based case studies [Brazil, India and Pakistan, Japan] as well as on some of Europe’s and America’s most significant cultural contributions such as, Structuralism and Pop Art. Saima Zaidi

CND 112 Music as Communication

Victor Hugo once stated: “Music expresses that which cannot be said.” But what exactly is the difference between verbal and musical expression? What can be said in language that music cannot express? And why not just be silent? After all, it’s silence that illuminates, at least according to Gibran, who obviously could not remain silent about it. Or is silence just another form of communication? This course invites students to reflect on such fundamental questions by comparing the form of communication inscribed into the medium of music to other communication media. It first introduces students to basic communication theories, to then take a closer look at the characteristics of musical communication itself by listening to and talking about a variety of musical pieces from folk to classical to pop. Markus Heidingsfelder

CND 1XX Introduction to Drawing

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of drawing, employing a variety of methods and materials. We will expand upon and develop our visual and observational skills and explore drawing as a way of seeing, investigating and representing form and space. Using primarily black and white media on a variety of surfaces, students will learn fundamental drawing techniques, concepts and vocabulary such as mark-making, line variation, contouring, positive/negative space, linear perspective, and more. Zahra Malkani

CND 136 Introduction to Film Production

The course will introduce students to learn the fundamentals of cinematic language including various techniques and processes of film production in preparation for more advanced film courses. The course is organized through a series of exercises which will help students explore a variety of cinematic methods through hands on practice with film equipment including the camera, lights, sound, and editing software. Umair Bilal

CND 132 Film History and Theory: An Extended Introduction I

This year-long course is an in-depth overview of the 20th century’s dominant medium of visual communication (and still of tremendous importance today): cinema. It will introduce students to a range of strategies through which filmmakers unlock cinema’s aesthetic potential, to film’s dominant narrative forms and genres, and to the complex interrelationships between films and the societies and cultures in which they are made. One central premise of this course is that no account of the evolution of cinema makes complex sense without substantial consideration of the different ways scholars and practitioners have framed thinking. In other words, history and theory work together, and will be intertwined throughout the course in what resembles a double-stranded structure that alternates consistently between these two inseparable approaches. We will examine global filmmaking from its origins in the 19th century to WWII. Marco Grosoli

CND 273 Feminism and Visual Culture

This course explores key concepts and concerns of Visual Culture studies through the lens of feminist thought, critique and cultural production. With a focus on modern and contemporary art, we explore how feminist theory has engaged questions of gender and representation and how feminist art and visual practices have complicated and challenged constructions of gender, sexuality, space, bodies and technology. This course attempts to center the narratives, writings and work of women to internalize feminist revisions of and interventions upon the fields of Art History, Philosophy, and Cultural Studies. We examine key questions raised by feminist art practice on central concepts of visual culture studies such as: History, The Gaze, The Body, Race, Performance etc. In our readings, we engage with a range of methods and practices in feminist writing, from the theoretical to the poetic, and consider the centrality of writing and the invention of new textual forms and strategies to feminist thought and political praxis. Zahra Malkani

CND 273 Typography 1

Study basic principles of typography, shape/symmetry of letters and the particular vocabulary associated with typographic expression with respect to its intended effect/message. Lectures, presentations, creative projects, discussions and critical assessments will be part of the course outline. Class participation is mandatory. Students will have to research design, produce their own typographical content, do the recommended readings from books and online, present on the subject and shall be tested on their knowledge of the essentials of typography to ensure thorough learning. Saima Zaidi

CND 238 Text + Image

This course will introduce students to text-based art practices, working across different artistic media with experimental and conceptual writing at the center. We will consider textual production in relation to image making, the book form, archives, sound and spoken word practices. We will trace the history of text-based art practice from DADA to the essay film, and examine current art practices that engage with text in a number of ways from textual performance to artists working with indexing, archives and research. Students will propose and complete innovative works that challenge traditional modes of literary production and combine images with language in conceptual and experimental ways ranging from narrative, deconstructive, fictional, poetic, performative etc. We experiment with the sound, materiality, syntax and metaphorics of language and explore especially its role and potentials in contemporary art practices. Zahra Malkani

CND 2XX Lighting for Film and Video

This course will introduce students to the fundamental concepts of lighting used in film and video production through theory, history and practice. Students will learn the nature and physical properties of light and how to use these concepts aesthetically in their narrative exercises while using various lighting strategies and techniques used in studio and on location settings. Umair Bilal

CND 311 Elements of Aesthetics

Liberal arts education at Habib University, rooted in the philosophy of Yohsin and aesthetics, is one of its five paradigms. This course covers the fundamental principles of aesthetics and appreciation of beauty through the study of identified elements such as line, shape, form, space, colour and light manifested by different media and materials. The course deals with the grammar of the visual thinking, visual language, visual organization, visual relationship and aesthetical creation in the context of creative industry and “Kalakar” – a creative person.
Instructions in this course will ask students to engage in an act of creation and learn to distinguish best from the good that has to encompass both pragmatic and emotional considerations. The goal is to facilitate students by sensitizing their eyes and developing their powers of visual discrimination. The course also initiates the conversation and development of the sensory perception of literal/ambiguous form, leading to a process of selection and decision-making and its conversion into an actual application. The aim is to provide students an organized approach to the mechanics of design and ability to use this knowledge to a range of situations in developing for self-expression or industrial application. (Open to 2nd year students with permission of the instructor). Muqeem Khan

CND 3XX Cinematography

This course in cinematography will introduce students to strategies and techniques through which to control and manipulate the composition, framing, quality, and effect of moving images by varying frame rates, shutter speeds, and image exposure, changing camera lenses, filters and color temperatures to create different moods, experimenting with camera movement and angles, and establishing points-of-view. Students learn when, how, and why to break established cinematic conventions, and how to incorporate these effectively in their short visual narratives. Umair Bilal

CND 3XX Representing Reality

Reality is not something that is given to us, but whatever arises from the alternation between assumptions on the one hand and observations on the other. Our assumptions can be deceptive, our observations can be deceiving, but we have nothing but both, and most of all, the change between the two of them in order to track down what we call reality. In this course we will be thinking about the reality of documentary film as well as making documentary films that think about the representation of reality. The challenge lies in turning reflection on representations of reality in documentary films into documentary practice. By carefully studying the history of documentary film as well as its theories from the first, mostly normative attempts up to the latest, deconstructivist and postmodernist variations, we will develop an awareness for the artificialities as well as for the plausibilities of defining reality as well as for separating documentary filmmaking from other forms of cinema. Our study will be informed by watching a selection of documentaries from the silent movie era up to the present, as well as mockumentaries, docudramas and fiction movies that make use of non-fictional forms.

CND 376 Advanced Animation

This course examines three-dimensional digital design, visual aesthetics, and the theoretical underpinning for human perception. The class instructions in this course introduce multiple media, their associated theories, and stages of production. Although technical proficiency is a goal in the class, the primary emphasis is the application of cognitive theories of perception for a harmonized and dynamic visual experience. Students will develop knowledge and skills as they learn about and produce computer-generated 3D elements in the realm of visual effects and interactive and broadcast animation. The class instructions will examine methodological analysis from a semiotic perspective, narrative theory, and topics related to time, space, and cinematographic matchmoving. Muqeem Khan

CND 426 Realism – An Overview Across Cinema and Literature

In what consists the realism of 19th century realist novels? Once this preliminary question is answered, the course will move forward to describe the manifold mutual influences and exchanges between on the one hand the literary realisms of the 19th and 20th centuries, and cinema on the other. While doing so, this course will also explore a number of theories of literary and cinematic realism (Lukacs, Magny, Bazin et al.), and provide a wide range of examples of different kinds of realisms in both arts (hyperrealism, magic realism and so on and so forth). Through this 400-level seminar, students will enrich their knowledge of what “Realism” is by means of a suitable range of examples and case studies, as well as of advanced-level theoretical perspectives on the subject. Marco Grosoli

CND 4XX Cultural Production in Karachi

This course seeks to introduce seniors to the complex and important interplay between culture, capital and their city. Karachi as the financial capital of the country is also the central cultural hub for arts and media. Tying theory to praxis, students will interact with the industry (TV, advertising, music, theatre, arts etc.) and industry leaders via guest lectures and site visits. Through readings and these interactions, students will be able to situate themselves as media consumers and producers in one of the largest megacities in the world and understand how the city is imagined, portrayed and remixed for consumption. Rahma Mian.