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

Undergraduate Course: Image Politics: A Global History of Photography (HIAR10193)

Course Outline
SchoolEdinburgh College of Art CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryPhotography played a role in shaping world histories, cultures and identities. From its very beginning the element of cultural contact and exchange was significant for the history of photography and after its invention in the 1830s the technology quickly spread beyond Europe. In recent times, with the advent of the internet, globalization and digital technology has impacted the history of photography. This course discusses the global history of photography through a series of case studies focusing on specific topics, including political portraiture, war photography, photojournalism and advertising. The technical aspects of photography and the question of the modification and 'faking' of photographs will also be discussed. The course takes advantage of the photographic material in the University library and archives as well as nearby collections, including the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. If possible, it will involve museum visits and hands-on exercises.
Course description This course will discuss the history of photography from its very beginnings until today, introducing both technological and artistic developments, while also providing historical context. The medium of photography expanded across the globe shortly after its introduction in the 1830s. This course will discuss examples of photography from around the world, including the Middle East, China, Latin America and Africa, but also from Europe and the United States. We will study the impact photography made on cultural, social and political developments and analyse topics such as political portraiture and revolutionary propaganda, war and conflict photography, police and prison portraiture, but also photojournalism and advertising. We will examine, if photographs are trustworthy sources, learn about the manipulation and modification of images from the 19th century until now and examine their role in the phenomenon of 'fake news'. We will discuss questions relevant to the history of photography and to our daily lives, such as 'How does photography shape politics and how are photographs shaped by politics?', 'Can I trust what I see on a photograph?' and 'How has my own consumption of images changed me?'
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: History of Art 2A Reason, Romance, Revolution: Art from 1700 to 1900 (HIAR08027) AND History of Art 2B From Modernism and the Avant-Gardes to Postmodernism and Globalisation (HIAR08028) 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
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have at least 3 History of Art courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses. As numbers are limited, visiting students should contact the Visiting Student Office directly for admission to this course.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate skills of visual analysis and interpretation of photographs, their material and iconographic aspects.
  2. Show a critical understanding of the historical, political and cultural context of the history and historiography of photography.
  3. Apply a critical awareness of how photographs have been used and are used in the media today.
  4. Employ insight, originality and confidence in identifying, conceptualising and expressing novel problems raised by the material.
  5. Present and convey, both in writing and orally, information about specialised topics to informed audiences
Reading List
Mary Warner Marien, Photography and Its Critics: a Cultural History, 1839-1900 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Naomi Rosenblum, A World History of Photography (New York: Abbeville Press, 1997).
Robin Kelsey and Blake Stimson, eds. The Meaning of Photography (New Haven and Williamstown: Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. Distributed by Yale University Press, 2008).
Ariella Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography (Boston: Zone Books; Distributed by The MIT Press, 2008).
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others (London and New York: Penguin, 2004).
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Visual and critical analysis; Clear thinking and the development of an argument; Independent research; Presentation and communication skills; Organisation and planning.
KeywordsPhotography,Print Culture,Portraiture,Art History,History of Technology
Course organiserDr Mira Xenia Schwerda
Course secretaryMr Nathan Ross-Hammond
Tel: (0131 6)51 5880
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