The production of portraits has increased exponentially since the Renaissance, with examples found in all media, from painting, sculpture and drawing, to photography, film and even architecture. As a genre, portraiture brings into focus crucial questions regarding the transactions between visual representation and subjectivity, and this module is organised thematically so as to foreground issues pertaining to the politics of identity and to the complexities of inter-subjective encounters. A number of broad questions will organise our inquiry: if a portrait delivers a ‘likeness’ of the sitter, what aspects of the individual does it resemble (physical features, emotional life, primary activities, social status, inner essence, ‘soul,’ etc.)? What is the nature of the relationship between patron and artist, artist and sitter, and, in the case of the self-portrait, between artist and him/herself? What social and psychic functions do portraits serve, and how have these changed over time and within different contexts? By exploring such questions, students will gain a richer and more critical understanding of this crucial genre in the Western tradition.