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History and Photography
Course code: ELCS6036
Tutor: Dr Eleanor Chiari
Mode of Assessment: 2 assessed essays of 2000 words each
Term: taught in term 1
From its very invention photography has been seen as a controversial medium for its relationship with time and its power as an iconic instrument for representing history. As we move into the digital era and photographs are ever more present in our daily lives it becomes particularly important to look critically on the medium and to consider its implication for our understanding of history. This course aims to introduce students to the rich literature and theory on the relationship between photography and history. Starting with the first daguerreotypes reporting on the Civil War in the United States and ending with the Guardian Eyewitness daily photo app, each lesson will be structured around a specific theme (and/or a specific photograph or set of photographs). Themes covered will be: Photography and modernity, photography as evidence, photography and mourning (particularly around the debates about the ghostly photo-apparitions that became popular after the First World War), photography censorship and the alteration of history (as in Stalin’s photographic purges of his enemies), the fetishism of the photograph/photographed in celebrity culture, photography the self and the family album, war photography and the role of newspapers in shaping history, photography and forgetting, photography, the internet and new technologies.
- Eduardo Cadava, Words of Light: Thesis on the Photography of History, Princeton University Press, 1997.
- Marianne Hirsch, Family Frames: Photography, narrative and postmemory, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1997.
- Susan Sontag, On Photography, Penguin Books, London, 1971.
- Mary Warner Marien, Photography: a Cultural History, 2nd edition, Lawrence King Publishing, 2006.
- Liz Wells ed., The Photography Reader, Routledge, New York, 2003.
Initial Secondary Bibliography:
- Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Vintage Classics, 1993.
- Bonnie Brennen, Picturing the Past: Media, History and Photography (History of Communication), University of Illinois Press, Champaign, 1999.
- Elizabeth Edwards, Raw Histories: Photographs, Anthropology and Museums, Berg, Oxford, 2001.
- Jorge Lewinsky, The Camera at War: a History of War Photography from 1848 to the present day, Allen, London, 1978.
- Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography, Abbeville Press, New York, 2007.
- Robert Sobieszek, The Art of Persuasion; A History of Advertising Photography, Abrams, New York, 1988.