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Weekend Eye: M.I.T’s Visualizing Cultures

April 17, 2010
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image from Brinkley's 'Japan': courtesy of ocw.mit.edu

This weekend, I am focusing on two visual culture tools that I am currently digging.  In this weekend’s Educational Life supplement to the New York Times, Randy Kennedy profiles M.I.T’s online education program ‘Visualizing Cultures’.

Started in 2002 by two professors (one, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian), ‘Visualizing Cultures‘ defines itself as ‘image-driven scholarship’: an online platform that uses the web to compile images of all kinds—paintings, photographs, advertisements, cartoons— to better understand how, historically, different cultures saw themselves and others, and conversely, how others saw them.  As the website states: “Visualizing Cultures weds images and scholarly commentary in innovative ways to illuminate social and cultural history.”

Focused mostly on Asian cultures, the website has become a virtual museum in its own right, and was honored with an award from the Association of Asian Studies last year. Stunning visuals are accompanied by scholarly essays.

It’s a trip to the museum from the comfort of your couch.

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