This seminar examines the intertwined histories of travel and photography, considering social, political, and artistic questions. We will ask how historical changes related to mobility, access, and representation have impacted the production and consumption of images, and in turn how images influence our relationships to places we do not call home. How do we understand terms like “exotic” and “undiscovered”? What are the connections between colonial exploration and contemporary photographic trophies? How do travel and photography relate to education and knowledge? Can encounters with the unfamiliar help dismantle preconceptions and stereotypes?
Weekly readings and slideshows will provide context for critical thinking about photography’s relationship to travel and tourism in general, and to “the American road” in particular. Related to these themes, we will look multiple types of image making, collecting, and sharing; from personal snapshots, albums, and family slideshows, to advertising, postcards, photo books, and related artist projects. Assignments will include independent research, short response papers, presentations, and creative exercises. No experience in photography is necessary and no specific equipment or materials are required.