VPS has been in existence since 1996 as a faculty and graduate student research activity devoted to bringing interdisciplinary activities in the arts, humanities, and social sciences into visibility at UCSC. Today it serves as a collaborative research and programming "think tank" for faculty and graduates from 13 departments. Initially, it fostered and proposed an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program.
VPS seeks to engage everyone on campus involved in the broad fields that converge in the terms Visual Studies and Performance Studies, including visuality and performativity in the media of images, artifacts, texts, and performances. New approaches across the presently constituted boundaries of disciplines and geographies are stressed. Conferences and seminars proposed by members generate a dialogic relationship at the intersections of performance and the visual in order to foster thinking for the VPS participants and to present original research to the UCSC campus community.
VPS is dedicated to the support of graduate students and faculty engaged in research and writing on any area of visual and performance studies, including dance, texts, digital new media, moving image media, and works of art.
VPS was recently made a Center in the Arts Divison, thereby solidifying both its internal and extra-mural presence and establishing a prominent place for research in the Arts at UCSC.