This introductory course investigates the fraught relationship between photography and history. Photographs are often thought to record history. However, they frequently alter the course of the histories they purport to merely document. Through a series of case studies, we will explore the possibilities and perils of regarding photographs as factual evidence. Beginning with photography’s invention in Europe and the United States during the rise of modernity and Industrialized capitalism, we will learn how photography was conceived as both a perfect instrument of scientific inquiry and realist art. We will examine instances in which photography not only pictured modernity, but was in fact a central agent in producing the modern world—with all of its inequities and ensuing struggles for freedom. Beyond looking at movements in art photography, we will also learn about photography’s role in informing medical and scientific diagnoses, charting gender and sexual norms, defining racial and ethnic stereotypes, delimiting aesthetic ideals for the body, and colonizing Indigenous lands. We will come to understand how marginalized and Nonwestern communities have used the camera as a tool of resistance and liberation, frequently advancing the aesthetic possibilities of the medium ahead of the canon of “avant-garde” artists. Part 1 of this course covers the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Part 2 will cover the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. You will learn how to look, read, write, and talk about photography within its social and historical contexts. You will write a short paper, a long paper, and create a collaborative presentation.
Delivery Method: Fully in-person
Course Level: 2000-level
T 2:10PM - 5:50PM (Full-term)
Maximum Enrollment: 14
Course Frequency: One time only
Categories: All courses , Updates , Art History , Fully In-Person