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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Edinburgh College of Art : History of Art

Undergraduate Course: Histories and theories of photography (HIAR10138)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course provides an overview of some of the major figures in the history of photography from its invention in the nineteenth century to the rise of so-called modernist photography during the first half of the twentieth century, as well more recent photographic practices. While the course is organized in a roughly chronological way, it approaches the history of photography thematically in order to draw out the diverse contexts, uses and meanings of photography as it gradually took its place alongside other forms of fine art. Key topics to be discussed include: sites of memory (including for example, the importance of photography for the early preservation of historical monuments); portraiture and self-representation; travel photography and the role of photography in the history of European colonialism; documentary photography; the unique temporal character of the photographic image; the ¿ontology¿ of the photograph as distinct from other media. Among the extraordinary photographers we shall examine are: Atget, Bayard, Brassai, Daguerre, Evans, Fox Talbot, Hill and Adamson, le Gray, Moholy-Nagy, Nadar, Niepce, Sander and Steiglitz. We shall also read influential writers and theorists of photography such as Charles Baudelaire, Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Hubert Damisch, Alan Sekula, Susan Sontag and Joel Snyder. The course will include a study visit to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery to look at early photographs first hand.
Course description Origins: The ¿birth¿ of photography

1 - Daguerre, Niepce and Talbot

A medium for a new age?

2 - Nadar and portrait photography

3 - Photography, Travel and Empire

Photography and memory

4 - The work of art in the age of technological reproducibility: the first photographic surveys and fine art reproduction.

Literature and the Victorian photographic imagination

5 - Scottish Photography: D.O. Hill and Robert Adamson

6 - Julia Margaret Cameron and Lady Hawarden

The temporality of the photographic image

7 - Roland Barthes¿ Camera Lucida

Photographic Avant-gardes

8 - Photomontage and Neue Sachlichkeit

9 - Surrealist photography

Photography of the street

10 - Documentary and the rise of the amateur snapshot
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2 (HIAR08012) OR Architectural History 2a: Order & the City (ARHI08006) AND Architectural History 2b: Culture & the City (ARHI08007)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2014/15, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  20
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 173 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 50 %, Coursework 50 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Essay 50%, Exam 50%
Feedback Not entered
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)Histories and theories of photography2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. By the end of the course, students will have:

    become familiar with the history of photography from its invention to the mid-twentieth century, including major photographers;

  2. understood the changing status of photography in relation to fine art;
  3. considered a range of theoretical texts on photography;
  4. become familiar with the development of technical aspects of photography.
Reading List
Primary Texts

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Trans. Richard Howard. New York: Hill & Wang, 1981.
Batchen, Geoffrey, Burning with Desire: The Conception of Photography. Cambridge, Massachusetts, The MIT Press, 1997.
Benjamin, Walter, ¿Little History of Photography¿, The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and other Writings on Media, ed. By Michael W. Jennings et. al. Harvard, 2008.
Collins, Kathleen, ed. Shadow and Substance: Essays on the History of Photography. Bloomfield Hills, Michigan: Amorphous Institute Press, 1991.
Edwards, Steve, A Short History of Photography, Oxford, 2006.
Frizot, Michel, A New History of Photography (ed.), A New History of Photogoraphy, Konneman, 1998.
Gernsheim, Helmut. The History of Photography, from the earliest use of the camera obscura in the eleventh century up to 1914. London: Oxford University Press, 1955.
Hambourg, Maria Morris et al., The Waking Dream: Photography¿s First Century: Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993, pp. 84-90.
Henisch, Heinz K. and Bridget A. The Photographic Experience, 1839-1914: Images and Attitudes. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press, 1993.
Kelsey, Robin and Stimson, Blake, eds., The Meaning of Photography. Clark Studies in Visual Arts,Williamstown, MA: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 2008.
Kracauer, Siegfried. ¿Photography¿ in Siegfried Kracauer, The Mass Ornament: Weimer Essays. Trans. Thomas Y. Levin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995.
Marien, Mary Warner. Photography: A Cultural History. New York, Harry N. Abrams, 2002.
Newhall, Beaumont. History of Photography, from 1839 to the Present. Rev. ed. New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1982.
Newhall, Beaumont, ed. Photography: Essays & Images. London, Secker & Warburg, 1980.
Rosenblum, Naomi. A World History of Photography. New York: Abbeville Press, 1984.
Sontag, Susan. On Photography. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1979.
Wells, Liz, ed. Photography: A Critical Introduction, 4th ed., New York: Routledge, 2009.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills By the end of the course, student should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

Define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant discussion and sources of information;

Process diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;

Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position;

Write and present verbally a precise account of positions, arguments and their presuppositions and implications;

Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;

Think laterally and creatively ¿ see interesting connections and possibilities ¿ and present these clearly, rather than as vague hunches;

Maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;

Think critically and constructively.
KeywordsPhotography, memory, portraiture, documentary photography, theory, reproduction, temporality
Course organiser Course secretaryMrs Sue Cavanagh
Tel: (0131 6)51 1460
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