Tuesday, November 10, 2009

term-paper for VIS 158: Histories of Photography

VIS 158:Histories of Photography
Fall 2009

Professor Lisa Bloom

Classroom: Center Hall 214
Lecture TuTh 11-12:20 p.m.
Office hours: Tues. 1:30 – 2:30 (Schedule appt. via e-mail)
Office: MAN 229
Course Readers: Gretchen M. Gordon:gmg@ucsd; Glenna Jennings: gjennings@ucsd.edu; Louis Schmidt:lms@ucsd.edu; Rich Bott:rbott@ucsd.edu


Answer one of the following four questions. Your essay should be handed in on November 24th in class. It should be 5 pages in length, typed and double-spaced. Your essay should cite at least two different authors from the course reading.
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. Also make sure you carefully proofread your essay.

1. Write a paper comparing and contrasting the life’s work of two photographers whose work you admire and have created historically significant images. This paper is not to be a biographical analysis detailing the birth and formative years of the photographer’s life. Rather, it should be an in-depth analysis of the photographer’s photographs. Choose photographers whose work has had a profound capacity to trouble and interfere with our memories, as either individuals or as a nation. Use specific images to make an argument about their work. Try to link your analysis to larger themes about the role of the camera image in the production of history and memory. Please attach xeroxes of the images that you are focusing on. You should choose photographers that are from your reading between October 27th – November 24th.

2. Using your own family album, analyze how family snapshots, albums, and home videos reinforce societal norms about the family. Consider what kind of family events are considered important enough to preserve and why? What kind of events are omitted or left out? Who is the “keeper” of the family’s history? Speculate on how does censorship and forgetting take place in families? In what forms does it take? How do these forms of self-representation mirror normative gender relations in the world at large? Think of this in terms of the relative status of various family members, such as mothers and fathers, men and women, parents and children. Under what circumstances are family photos brought out? To whom are they shown? Relatives? Friends? Strangers? In showing others these personal images, what are we saying about ourselves? Through these photos examine the kinds of values embodied or expressed through these photographs? How do the photos embody values that have to do with power relation as expressed through gender, sexuality, race, and class? Support your ideas with references to the course readings. Your analysis should examine how censorship, forgetting, remembrance, and mythmaking take place in families (Note: The attached photos should be xeroxes, not original photographs.)Please see the following course reading in 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. Also, see in PCH: 457-473.

3. What role do images and texts play in shaping and creating our shared memory of the past? Choose one of the following sets of documentary films to compare: (1) Night and Fog / History and Memory (2)Night and Fog/ Ghosts of Abu Ghraib. Identify topics, ideas, methods in which these films speak to each other. Possible topics can include: remembering and forgetting within families from different cultures/ historical traumatic events underlying family stories told (the Japanese internment camps); Ideally you will briefly sum up the argument of each film examined as well as bring forward your own critique comparing the two films supported with examples. Also link your discussion with the work of relevant class readings. Discuss key terms and concepts that were important to understanding the form and content of both documentary films. What approach does each film take towards the history of photography as explored by the class? How do these films relate to some of the photographs that you’ve read about or seen in class (when relevant)? What connections are there between these films and others that you have seen this quarter? Please see the following course reading: PCH 296-305; 326-334359-365. From PR, see: Martha Rosler, “In, Around, and Afterthoughts (On Documentary Photography,” and John Berger, “Photographs of Agony.” Additional reading on reserve includes: Ewout van der Knaap Uncovering the Holocaust: The International Reception of Night and Fog (2006) and Marita Sturken, “Absent Images of Memory: Remembering and Reenacting the Japanese Internment,” in Perilous Memories, pp. 33-49.

4. If you were to make a set of photographs based on what you have learned so far in the this course, what would the topic be and how would you approach it? Reflect upon the ways in which photography can be used for different purposes (telling family stories, remembering historical events, showcasing people whose stories would not otherwise be told, bearing witness to the action and destruction of war, etc.) Discuss the possibilities of your photographs compared to other forms such as films or non-audiovisual materials. In which ways will the photographs help you to achieve your goals of expression? What are the difficulties or problems? Discuss these questions in connection with concepts from the history of photography developed in the course reading and lectures. You might also want to think on the limitations and problems of photography, the use of digital cameras, texts, etc. Support your ideas with references to the course reading. If you want to make photographs for this assignment, make sure that you do not hand in your only copies.

Following is a checklist of questions, addressing specific issues of content, organization, and stylistics. If you find that your answer is "no" to any one of these questions, then you need to rework your essay for improvement in that specific area.

Revision Checklist
1. Does the paper begin in a way that draws the reader into the paper while introducing the topic?
2. Does the introduction provide some general overview that leads up to the
3. Do your supporting paragraphs relate back to your thesis, so that the paper
has a clear focus?
4. Do your body paragraphs connect logically, with smooth transitions
between them?
5. Do your supporting paragraphs have a good balance between general points and specific, concrete evidence?
6. If you've used secondary sources for your evidence, do you attribute them adequately to avoid any suspicion of plagiarism? (See Documenting Sources hand-out)
7. If you've used quotations extensively, have you avoided having quoted material overpower your own writing?
8. Does your last paragraph give your readers something to think about rather than merely restate what you've already said elsewhere in the essay?
9. Have you chosen your words aptly and sometimes inventively, avoiding clich├ęs and overused phrases? (See the Rules for Better Writing on the last page of the Documenting Sources hand-out.)
10. Have you proofread carefully to catch any grammatical problems or spelling errors?
11) Have you used footnotes properly and included a “works cited” page? (See Documenting Sources hand-out)

Additional Suggestion
Read your prose out loud to yourself, to catch any awkward or unnatural sounding passages, wordy sentences, grammatical glitches and so on.

NOTE: In answering any one of the above questions, be sure to support your opinions with arguments based on your reading of the set texts. References to the articles, should, of course, be footnoted. Feel free to cite texts other than those in the Course Reader, but these should be additional to the given readings, not in place of them. Support your argument with examples. Please be sure to hand in your papers on time. Late papers will be marked down.