Photography in History
Art History and Theory
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Saturday 14 December 2019
05 July 2019
Requisites for this module
BA PV33 Film Studies and Art History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VW36 Film Studies and Art History,
BA VW37 Film Studies and Art History (Including Placement Year),
BA VW38 Film Studies and Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VW3B Film Studies and Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)
The year 1839 saw the birth of photography and the beginning of a revolution in the way people saw themselves, their nations, and their world. In this module, we will explore not only the evolution of the medium over the 175 years since its invention, but also the creation of the field within the discipline of art history.
We will consider photography in relation to the democratisation of portraiture; the development of new scientific methods and systems of surveillance; the photograph's change in status from document to artwork; the tension between photography and modernist art; the shifting definition of photojournalism; and the medium's role in the field of postmodern art.
The aims of this module are:
1. to provide students with a broad and comparative knowledge of the history of photography;
2. to explore issues related to some of the main developments in European and American photograph since its invention;
3. to develop skills of visual and conceptual analysis for the medium of photography and its personal, documentary and artistic uses;
4. to encourage debate about the place of photography in society;
5. to familiarise students with specialised debates in past and recent literature around the interpretation of photographs;
6. to encourage student awareness of different methods of approaching the discipline through analysis of chosen texts;
7. to stimulate students to develop skills in written communication through essay and oral communication and debate in seminars.
By the end of this module the student should have:
1. a sound grasp of the history of photography;
2. the ability to interpret photographs and texts based on broad and comparative knowledge of the appropriate historical and interpretative contexts;
3. the confidence to subject the artworks and texts studied to critical analysis and interpretation;
4. the ability to communicate complex ideas concerning representation, medium-specificity, modernity and postmodernity;
5. insight into the different methods of art-historical investigation that have been explored with reference to European and American photography;
6. experience in textual analysis relevant to works and theoretical debates from this period;
7. an ability to discuss the history of photography and to reflect critically upon this history through seminar discussion, a coursework essay of 2,750 words, a slide test and a 72-hour research paper.
By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:
1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively (i.e., to explore interesting connections and possibilities, and to present these clearly rather than as vague hunches);
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position based on feedback;
9. think critically and constructively.
No additional information available.
9 x 2 hour lectures/seminars
1 x Gallery visit
Week 8 is Reading Week
- Bolton, Richard. (1992, c1989) The contest of meaning: critical histories of photography, Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
- Eder, Josef Maria. (1978) History of photography, New York: Dover Publications.
- Sontag, Susan. (2008) On photography, London: Penguin.
- Williamson, Judith. (c1986) Consuming passions: the dynamics of popular culture, London: M. Boyars.
- Sekula, Allan. (1963-) 'On the Invention of Photographic Meaning', in Artforum, New York: Artforum International Magazine. vol. 13 (5) , pp.36-45
- Benjamin, Walter; Bullock, Marcus Paul; Jennings, Michael William; Eiland, Howard; Smith, Gary. (1996-2003) Selected writings, Cambridge, Mass: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
- Tagg, John. (1988) The burden of representation: essays on photographies and histories, Basingstoke: Macmillan Education.
- Wells, Liz. (2003) The photography reader, London: Routledge.
- Godeau, Abigail Solomon. (1984-11-01) 'Winning the Game When the Rules Have Been Changed: Art Photography and Postmodernism', in Screen. vol. 25 (6) , pp.88-103
- Sidlauskas, Susan. (2013-06) 'Inventing the medical portrait: photography at the ‘Benevolent Asylum’ of Holloway, c. 1885–1889', in Medical Humanities. vol. 39 (1) , pp.29-37
- Gürsel, Zeynep Devrim. (2018-09) 'A Picture of Health: The Search for a Genre to Visualize Care in Late Ottoman Istanbul', in Grey Room. vol. 72, pp.36-67
- Baudelaire, Charles; Charvet, P. E. (1972) Selected writings on art and artists, Harmondsworth: Penguin.
- Zegher, M. Catherine de; Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, Mass.). (c1996) Inside the visible: an elliptical traverse of 20th century art in, of, and from the feminine, Cambridge, Mass: The MIT Press.
- Crow, Thomas. (1969-) 'Saturday Disasters: Trace and Reference in Early Warhol', in Art in America, New York: F.F. Sherman., pp.129-136
The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.
Assessment items, weightings and deadlines
|Coursework / exam
||In-Class Slide Test
||2500 Word Essay
||Take-Home Research Paper (2000 Words)
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Natasha Ruiz-Gomez
Prof Richard Simon Clay
Professor of Digital Cultures
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 16 (88.9%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).
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