The Perceiving Eye: Everyday Life and the Contemporary

Home/ The Perceiving Eye: Everyday Life and the Contemporary
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation CoreNA4

Semester and Year Offered: Winter

Course Coordinator and Team: Santhosh S. and Rakhi Peswani

Email of course coordinator: santhoshs[at]aud[dot]ac[dot]in

Pre-requisites: None

Course Objectives/Description: The course aspires to create awareness and provide students various tools to inculcate sensitivity towards their everyday and contemporary life. It will provide certain basis of praxis to critically address and eliminate existing social and cultural hierarchies and injustices prevalent in everyday life. The course will also bring awareness to the technicalities of visual and other media tools and their use, relationship in proliferation of ideas and knowledge.

This interdisciplinary course will trace various social and political continuities that are imperceptible and yet embedded within the sphere of everyday life. The course will engage students with certain tools of practice and theory that will help in critically and creatively framing the sphere of everyday, through image and material culture that surrounds, limits, expands or strengthens ones identities.

The course will be guided along the theoretical tenets to discursively access everyday life. These will also help students to form a framework for their day to day life. The readings of key texts and media explorations will be structured along these tenets.

Course Outcomes:

  • Enable students to understand the life of an individual within a socio-political framework, to show the larger forces that govern and shape the everyday.
  • Provide them the tools to engage with the role of imaginative in the critical and creative framing of the aspects of ‘seemingly mundane’.
  • Allow them to cross disciplinary boundaries on the axis of everyday life to discern various interwoven and intertextual aspects of contemporary cultural practices.
  • Provide the students certain methods to cognize and shape cultural practices in contemporary times.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

1) Representation: Based on Stuart Hall’s introductory essay, the course will elaborate on the aspects of representation and language and their various tenets towards building culture.

Stuart Hall, Introductory essay from Representation (1997)

Ben Highmore, Chapter 2- Everyday Aesthetics, Ordinary Lives, 2011

Key References (Sections from following practitioners work):

Art: Joseph Kosuth, John Osborne, Cartier Bresson, Walker Evans, Chittoprasad,

Cinema: Truffaut, Godard, Majid Majidi, Makhmalbaf, Herzog, Farocki

Theatre: British Kitchen Sink Realism,

Literary: Proust, Joyce, Perec, Auster,

e) Music: John Cage

Exercises include mapping of the everyday on the axis of time to locate a complex network through drawing and documenting a full day of a profession through photography/video/sound/drawing.

2)Invisible in the Visible: The course will shed light on the blind nature of the mundane, its perception and the seemingly hidden facets of class, caste and gender, playing active roles in shaping the political within the everyday life.

Foucault, Las Meninas- Illustrative explanation of Foucault’s idea of formation of a subject and power.

De Certeau: General Introduction to The Practice of Everyday Life.

Helga Wild: Practice and Theory of Practice. Rereading Certeau’s ‘Practice of Everyday life’ 2012.

Key References (Sections from following practitioners work):

Vermeer, Holbein

Jan Svankmajer: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

The Examined Life (Judith Butler on Disability, Slavoj Zizek on Trash),

Peter Breughel: The Netherlandish proverbs, Triumph of Death,


Harun Farocki- Expression of the Hands

Exercises include capturing paradoxes in everyday life. Use moving image to depict stillness, or sound to depict silence, or stillness to depict movement and other Paradoxes such as boredom/frenzy, Secular/Communal and so on.

3) Difference in Repetition: The repetitive nature of most aspects of everyday life, will be discerned from shifting nature of most fields. Changes that seem imperceptible in the everyday lives due to habit (of the physical body), customs (within family systems), traditions (within communities), will be elaborated and framed.

Key readings include:

Raymond Williams- Culture is Ordinary, 1958 and Michel de Certeau- Spatial Practices, Part III, The Practice of Everyday Life. (1984)

Key References include:

Dutch Blue Tiles, On Kawara, Anna Fox, Francis Bacon, Van Gogh, Piranesi, Hockney, Stan Brakhage,

Exercises are:

10 portraits of 1 person- Drawing/Photography,

Documenting 1 moment of everyday.

4) Disjointed Continuities: The course will reflect and elaborate on the nature of contemporary societies in relation to various universal continuities of time (and space) and their disjointed segregation in different social contexts.

Key readings include:

Bourdieu: The Kabyle House or the World Reversed, 1970. (Highmore, Everyday Life Reader)

Danniel Miller: Making Love in Super Markets, 1998. (Everyday Life Reader)

Michel de Certeau: Theories of the Art of Practice, “Making Do”: Uses and tactics. from The Practice of Everyday Life(1984)

Key References:


Edward Lear- Limmericks

Cindy Sherman – Film Stills Series (1977),

Pushpamala- Ethnographic series, The Phantom Lady

Eduord Manet- Olympia,

Andy Warhol- Brillo , Piss paintings

Richard Long

Abramovic- The Room with the Ocean View


Fischli and Weiss,

The Big Hope- Communopoly

Exercises: Contexts Out of Context: Drawing/performance/ photography/moving image.

Combine two or more media forms to trace multitasking in any work.

Trace glimpses of parallel functioning of time from varying spaces.

Assessment Details with weights:

Total three assessments spanning the semester.

  • Assessment 1: 30%
  • Assessment2: 30%
  • Assessment 3: 40%

Each assessment will be comprised of practice work (50%), research paper (40%) and class participation (10%).

Reading List:

  • Core reading (Selections from following):
  • Ben Highmore, (edt.) The Everyday Life Reader. Routledge, London, New York, 2002.
  • Ben Highmore, Ordinary Lives, Routledge, 2011
  • Ben Highmore, The Everyday Life Reader, Routledge 2002
  • Henri Lefebvre, Critique of Everyday Life I, II. Verso Books. 1947, 1961
  • Michel De Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, University of California Press, 1984.
  • Michel De Certeau, Luce Giard, Pierre Mayol. The Practice of Everyday Life II, Living and Cooking. University of Minnesota Press, 1998.
  • Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday life. Rebel Press, 1983
  • Supplementary Reading (selections from following):
  • Stuart Hall, Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Sage Publications, 1997.
  • Pierre Bourdieu, The Kabyle House or the World Reversed, 1970
  • Michel Foucault, The Order of Things, Routledge, 1970