Wednesday, September 23, 2009

VIS 158: Histories of Photography

VIS 158: Histories of Photography
Fall 2009

Professor Lisa Bloom

Classroom: Center Hall 214
Lecture Tu-Th 11-12:20 p.m.
Office hours: Tues. 2:00 – 3:00 (Schedule appt. via e-mail)
Office: TBA
Course Readers: Gretchen M. Gordon:gmg@ucsd; Louis; Rich

The course will provide a selective overview of the history of photography from pre-photographic times to the present concentrating mostly on developments in the United States and Europe. Given that there is no single history but only histories of the medium, this course will reflect upon the ways in which photography can be thought of in the context of art history, media history and social history. This includes how photography can be used historically for telling family stories, remembering historical events, showcasing people whose stories would not otherwise be told, bearing witness to the action and destruction of war, documenting famine and disease, etc. The course will also examine photographic practice in relation to art and its role in the development of advertising, fashion, science, and consumer culture. Though the course will utilize a general chronological framework, it will also make connections between past and present throughout the quarter. The first half of the quarter will be devoted mostly to providing a background in the history of photography until World War 1I. The second half of the quarter will be devoted to the role of photography within 20th century modern/postmodern art and consumer culture from the 1920s to the present.

25% Mid-term
35% Term paper (take-home)
35% Final
5% Attendance and class participation

Academic Honesty:
--All work for this course is assumed to be your own original work. If your work does not fulfill this requirement you will be failed for the entire quarter without recourse. Please familiarize yourself with the UCSD Student Code of Conduct. Amy student who submits plagiarized material in any form will be subject to disciplinary action by the Dean of Student Affairs.

Required Course Requirements:
-- Classes will be a mix of lectures, slide presentations, and discussions of readings and films, so your attendance and informed participation are essential.

-- Mandatory attendance for class discussions. Roll will be taken for each class. Do not forget to sign in or you will be marked as absent. Participants are allowed two unexcused absence. More than two unexcused absence will result in a lowered grade.

--In order to receive an “A” in this class you must not only attend class regularly but complete the final and midterm exams and one take- home paper in a timely and highly competent manner. You must also produce work that demonstrates additional initiative on your part (e.g., outside reading and research). For your take- home essay you will be graded on your argument (make sure it is convincing), your understanding of the course readings and discussions, as well as the originality of your essay and examples. Remember that this is meant to be an analytical paper, not a synthesis of the course readings and discussions.

--The mid-term and final are based primarily on material presented in the course lectures and the course readings. The exams consist mostly of short, in-class essay questions. In lectures be especially attentive to those concepts that are presented as a series of key points or characteristics as well as illustrations that involve “compare and contrast” relationships.

-- There will be one take-home term paper. Topics will be handed out in class generally 10 days before the paper is due. (If you miss class that day, contact the instructor.) Papers will be (5 pages long) on a topic assigned in relation to class readings, film, and discussions. All assignments must be completed by deadlines given. Late take-home term paper will be marked down ½ letter grade per-day No late assignments will be accepted without a verified written explanation from parents or doctor.

--The dates for the final and midterm exams are fixed: make any travel plans accordingly. In a class of this size it is very difficult to schedule make-up exams. The only acceptable excuses are directly overlapping final exam times for other classes (verified with proof of enrollment), or medical or family emergencies (verified with a written explanation from your parents or doctor). In the event of overlapping final exams you must notify the instructor at least four weeks in advance of the scheduled final. The dates and times for all final exams are posted on the UCSD “Tritonlink” website. Travel plans, whether for vacations or study abroad trips, are not valid excuses for missing an exam and no make-up exams will be scheduled to accommodate these.

--There are no “extra-credit” assignments in this class. If you feel that you are not doing well or are falling behind in the class do not wait until the end of the term to contact the instructor; schedule a meeting as soon as possible to discuss your concerns.

--Take very complete notes during class. The instructor will not provide you with lecture notes if you miss a class. If you miss a lecture it is your responsibility to find a fellow student who will share their notes with you.

Required Text Books:

(1) Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History, second edition (PCH) available in the Price Center Bookstore.

(2) Liz Wells, ed. The Photography Reader (Routledge, 2003 (PR) available in the Price Center Bookstore.

All readings are in either the Photography Reader or part of the required book (Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History, second edition (PCH)

Recommended Photography Exhibition:

Please consider visiting the Museum of Photographic Arts, located in Balboa Park (in the Casa de Balboa Building), where you can see original prints by some of the photographers we’ll be discussing in class. For more information see the MoPA website: Current shows include: Picturing the Process: The Photograph As Witness.

Outline of the Course:

1. Sept. 24: Introductions, definitions of key terms, etc.
PCH: xiii-xv
PR: Walter Benjamin, “Extracts from the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” 42-52.
Screening in class: Ways of Seeing, part 1. (John Berger, 30 min.)

2. Sept. 29: Prehistories and Inventions
PCH: 1-32
PR: John Szarkowski, “Introduction to the Photographer’s Eye,” 97-103.

3. October 1: Photography, Science, and Race
PCH: pp. 32-44, 152-157; 222-225
Screening in class: Excerpts from The Life and Times of Sara Baartman (Zola Maseko, 1998, 52 min.)

4. October 6: Photography and Colonial Expansion
PCH: 116-127, 140-143, 217-222
PR: Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins, “The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes: the example of National Geographic, 354-375.
Screening in class: On Cannibalism (Fatima Tobing Rony, 1994, 8 min.),

5. October 8: Gender and 19th Century Photography
PCH: 93-98
PR: Liz Wells, “The Photographic Gaze,” 324-326; Lucy Lippard, “Doubletake: The Diary of a Relationship with an Image,” 343-353.
Screening in class: Ways of Seeing, part 2 (John Berger, 30 min.)

6. October 13: War and Industrialization: The Civil War, The Crimean War and the Mexican Revolution
PCH: 46-50, 99-115

7. Oct. 15: Photography as Fine Art: Pictorialism to the Photo-Secessionists
PCH: 85-93; 170-192

8. October 20: Documenting History: Urban Reform Culture,
the Farm Securities Administration and the Rise of Photojournalism
PCH: 201-208, 225-234; 276-288.
Screening in class: Excerpts from Walker Evans, America (1999, 57 min.)

9. October 22: Photography Between the Wars: Dada and Surrealist Interventions
*Mid Term Essay questions handed out in class
PCH, 235-250
PR: Ossip Brik, “What the Eye Does Not See,” 90-92; Laszlo Mololy-Nagy, “A New Instrument of Vision,” 92-96.
Screening in class: The Decisive Moment: Henri Cartier-Bresson (1973, Sheila Turner, 18 min.)

10. October 27: Photography and the Avant-garde of the 1920s and 1930s:
PCH: 250-276.
PR: Edward Weston, “Seeing Photographically,” 104-108.
Roberta McGrath, “Rereading Edward Weston: Feminism, Photography, and Psychoanlaysis,” 327-337.
Screening in Class: Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti, (Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen,1983, 29 min.)

11. October 29: Midterm Exam

12. November 3: Photography and World War II: After-Images of the Holocaust
PCH: 296-305
Screening in class: Night and Fog (Alain Resnais, 1955, 30 min.)

13. November 5: Photographing the Atomic Bomb and Remembering and Reenacting the Japanese Internment
PR: 268-276; 326-334
Screening in Class: History and Memory (Rea Tajiri, 1991, 32 min.),

14: November 10: From the Family of Man to Robert Frank’s photography
*Questions for Term Paper handed out in class
PCH, pp. 307-310, 334-344
PR: Karin E. Becker, “Photojournalism and the Tabloid Press, 291-308.
Screening in class: Excerpts from American Photography: A Century of Images (1999)

15. November 12: Photography and the New Social Concern: Lecture by Ruth Wallen
PCH: 344-353; 410-417
PR: Martha Rosler, “In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography),” 261-274.

16. November 17: Photography, Pop Culture and Fashion: Lecture by Prof. Roddey Reid
PCH: 354- 359; 364-371

17. November 19: Memory, History and Family Photography
PCH: 457- 473
PR: Rosy Martin and Jo Spence, “Photo-Therapy: Psychic Realism as a Healing Art?” 402-409.
bell hooks, “In our Glory: Photography and Black Life,” 387-394.

18. November 24: Photography, the Vietnam War, and the Prison Photographs from Abu Ghraib
*Term Paper Due
PCH: 359-365
PR: John Berger, “Photographs of Agony,” 288-290.
Screening in Class: Excerpts from Ghosts of Abu Ghraib (Rory Kennedy, 2007, 78 min.)

Thanksgiving: NO CLASS (November 26)

19. December 1: Postmodernism, Feminism and the Culture Wars
PCH: 387-410; 434-8; 486-487
PR: Abigail Solomon-Godeau, “Winning the Game When the Rules Have Been Changed: Art Photography and Postmodernism,” 152-163.

20. December 3: Conclusion: Photographic Practice, Digital Photography, and Globalization
PCH: 489-512
PR: Lev Manovich, “The Paradoxes of Digital Photography,” 240-249.
Screening in Class: Seven Intellectuals in Bamboo Forest (Yang Fudong, China, 2008, 30 min.)

Final Exam: Wednesday, December 9th at 11:30am-2:30 pm