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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Common Courses (School of Lit, Lang and Cult)

Postgraduate Course: Literature and Photography in the 20th century (CLLC11186)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummarySince its invention in the nineteenth century, photography has played a crucial role in literary texts. Whether images are only discussed, described or actually inserted within the text, they tend to reconfigure the descriptive eye and renew the rhetoric of ekphrasis; they introduce new ways of representing the real, and complicate the relation between truth, fact and fiction in literature; they can be used as proofs of reality, but they can also trigger memory and fictional processes; although by nature fragmentary, their narrative potential is often used by writers who develop them according to their fantasies and imagination. Focussing on works produced at the end of the twentieth century by French, German, Turkish, American and Japanese authors, this course will explore the various literary guises of photography, and the new writing trends it has initiated. What has the advent and rapid diffusion of this new medium changed in literature, for the writing, reading (/viewing) and editing processes, but also for literary critic and scholarship? How has its relation with other types of images (paintings, drawings, films) influenced writers who have strived to transcribe its singularity in their literary work? A variety of theoretical approaches to the photograph and to photo-texts will be adopted to address these issues. Primary sources (that will all be studied in English translation) include seminal works by major international authors, such as Roland Barthes, W. G. Sebald and Turkish Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk.
Course description Academic description

Photography has manifested its influence on literary works since its creation in the nineteenth century, be it praised or despised by the authors referring to it. In the contemporary period its presence has strengthened more particularly in the novelistic field and in autobiographies. Photographs, be they reproduced or merely described within the text, have been used as tokens of the individual and collective past to construct various forms of literary assemblages and narratives. This course aims to introduce students to the fictional and documentary tendencies of twentieth century "photo-literature". All the works studied, spanning from Georges Rodenbach's trailblazing photo-text Bruges-la-Morte (1892) to Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk's nostalgic memoir Istanbul: Memories of a City (2003), emphasise key elements of the relationship between literature and photography in the era of analogue technology - an era about to end at the start of the twenty-first century, that of digital technology. Themes covered will include: photography, identity and memory; photography and (life) narratives; the family album; photography, nostalgia and mourning; the photographic referent and the fictional potential of the image; photography and history; the fetishism of the photograph; photography and modernity (especially in the context of formal and autobiographical conventions); the relationship between text and image.

Description of the learning experience students can expect to get

The course is taught in ten two-hour seminars over one semester. As the course focusses on student-led learning, students are encouraged to form autonomous learning groups to discuss the primary and secondary sources before class and present the whole group with questions that were raised in their pre-class meetings. Handouts will be provided for each seminar with extracts from critical secondary sources and questions for discussion. Primary texts (that will all be studied in English translation) will be briefly presented and contextualised by the tutor at the start of each seminar, but most of the class will be centred on workshop-based discussion.

Outline of content

Session 1: Introduction: literature and photography (or "photo-literature"), an historical survey and theoretical background; image-text and imagology; issues of (literary) genre (life writing, fiction, poetry...) and style; questions of reception (the reader/viewer and the text); editorial matters (costs, design, book production) and the co-authoring of photo-texts; analog vs digital images: a new paradigm?

Session 2: Georges Rodenbach, Bruges-la-Morte [1892], trans Philip Mosley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)
»Photography, death and mourning (the "spectral" nature of the photographic image); post-cards (black and white vs colour), descriptions and atmosphere

Session 3: Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography [1980], trans Richard Howard (London: Vintage, 2000) [1]
»Barthes's definition of photography ("that-has-been"); the photographic Referent; Operator, Spectator and Spectrum; theoretical and scientific text or disguised autobiography?

Session 4: Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida [2]
»The fetishism of the photograph; studium and punctum; the Winter Garden Photograph (photography and mourning)

Session 5: Hervé Guibert, Ghost Image [1981], trans Robert Bononno (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)
»Image, fiction and narrative; photographic fantasies and desires; photo-textual games of presence and absence

Session 6: Yoko Tawada, "The Bath" [Das Bad, 1989], in Where Europe Begins: Stories (New York: New Directions, 2002), pp. 3-66
»Photography, (inter)cultural and sexual identities; gender related issues (the objectification of the female body); image, language and (mis)translation

Session 7: Richard Powers, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance [1985] (London: Atlantic Books, 2010)
»August Sander (Men of Our Times); narrative strategies and structure of the text; contemporary perspectives on technology; photography, mass media and (post)modernity (formal norms and conventions)

Session 8: Sophie Calle, True Stories [1994], fifth edition (Arles: Actes Sud, 2016)
»Life writing and auto-fiction; irony, humour and playful relation between author and reader/viewer; negotiating the real (photo-texts, narrative and truth)

Session 9: W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants [1992], trans Michael Hulse (London: Harvill, 1996)
»Photography, identity and memory; role and status of the photographic archive (documentary evidence/fictional power); spectres of the Holocaust

Session 10: Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories of a City [2003], trans Maureen Freely (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)
»Photography and urban spaces; aesthetics and emotional power of city postcards; photography, memory and melancholy
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students on LLC MSc programmes get first priority to this course. If you are not on an LLC course, please let your administrator or the course administrator know you are interested in the course. Unauthorised enrolments will be removed. No auditors are permitted.
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 176 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) The assessment consists of two written assignments:
-a reflective essay (1,000 words, 25%), in which students engage with one of the questions that were discussed in class; to be submitted in week 6
-a final essay (3,000 words, 75%); to be submitted in week 12 (tbc by the Graduate School before the start of the course)
Feedback -written feedback on the reflective essay
-written feedback on the final essay
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate advanced knowledge and understanding of photo-literature and its underpinning theories, including their complexity
  2. develop original ideas and their own approaches to photo-literature and the primary photo-texts
  3. demonstrate a high level of expression in both written and oral form
  4. carry out personal research under the guidance of the tutor and offer evidence of research initiative
  5. construct coherent arguments which demonstrate an awareness of the problems posed by the texts / issues which they are studying
Reading List
Primary Texts

Georges Rodenbach, Bruges-la-Morte [1892], trans Philip Mosley (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008)

Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography [1980], trans Richard Howard (London: Vintage, 2000)

Hervé Guibert, Ghost Image [1981], trans Robert Bononno (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996)

Yoko Tawada, "The Bath" [Das Bad, 1989], in Where Europe Begins: Stories (New York: New Directions, 2002), pp. 3-66

Richard Powers, Three Farmers on Their Way to a Dance [1985] (London: Atlantic Books, 2010)

Sophie Calle, True Stories [1994], fifth edition (Arles: Actes Sud, 2016)

W. G. Sebald, The Emigrants [1992], trans Michael Hulse (London: Harvill, 1996)

Orhan Pamuk, Istanbul: Memories of a City [2003], trans Maureen Freely (London: Faber and Faber, 2005)

Secondary Texts
(* indicates core reading)

Armstrong, Nancy, Fiction in the Age of Photography: the Legacy of British Realism (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999)

Bann, Stephen, and Emmanuel Hermange (eds.), "Photography and Literature: an Anglo-French symposium", Journal of European studies, vol. 30-31 (2000)

Barthes, Roland, "The Photographic Message" and "Rhetoric of the Image", in Image, Music, Text, ed. and trans. by Stephen Heath (New York: Hill and Wang, 1977), pp. 15-51

Benjamin, Walter, A Short History of Photography, in Classic Essays on Photography, ed. by Alan Trachtenberg (New Haven, Conn.: Leete's Island Books, 1980)

--, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, trans. by J.A. Underwood (London: Penguin, 2008)

Berger, John, About looking (New York: Pantheon Books, 1980)

Breton, André, Nadja, trans. by Richard Howard (New York: Grove, 1994)

*Brunet, François, Photography and Literature (London: Reaktion Books, 2009)

Bryant, Marsha (ed), Photo-Textualities: Reading Photographs and Literature (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1996)

Calle, Sophie, Double Game, with the participation of Paul Auster, new edition (London: Violette Editions, 2013)

--, Take Care of Yourself (Arles: Actes Sud, 2007)

*Cunningham, David, Andrew Fisher and Sas May (eds), Photography and Literature in the Twentieth Century (Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Press, 2005)

*Dow Adams, Timothy, Light Writing and Life Writing: Photography in Autobiography (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000)

Goodman, Nelson, Languages of Art (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1976)

Hansom, Paul, Literary Modernism and Photography (Westport, Conn. and London: Praeger, 2002)

Haverty Rugg, Linda, Picturing Ourselves. Photography and Autobiography (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1997)

Hirsch, Marianne, Family Frames: Photography, Narrative and Postmemory (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997)

Hugues, Alex, Heterographies: Sexual Difference in French Autobiography (Oxford: Berg, 1999)

*--, and Andrea Noble (eds), Phototextualities: Intersections of Photography and Narrative (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2003)

Hunter, Jefferson, Image and Word: The Interaction of Twentieth-Century Photographs and Texts (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1987)

Kawakami, Akane, Photobiography: Photographic Self-Writing in Proust, Guibert, Ernaux, Macé (Oxford: Legenda, 2013)

Lambrechts, Eric, and Luc Salu, Photography and literature: An International Bibliography of Monographs, Vol. 1 (Mansell, 1992 Continuum, 2000)

Mitchell, W.J.T., Picture Theory (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1994)

--, Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1986)

Novak, Daniel, Realism, Photography and Nineteenth Century Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008)

Rabaté, Jean-Michel (ed.), Writing the Image after Roland Barthes (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1997)

Rabb, Jane M., Literature & Photography Interactions, 1840-1990: A Critical Anthology (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1995)

--, The Short Story and Photography 1880'0s-1990's: A Critical Anthology (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1998)

Sarkonak, Ralph, Hervé Guibert and Company (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000)

Scott, Clive, The Spoken Image: Photography and Language (London: Reaktion Books, 1999)

Sebald, W. G., Austerlitz, trans. by Anthea Bell (New York: Random House, 2001)

Shloss, Carol, In Visible Light. Photography and the American Writer 1840-1940 (New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1987)

*Sontag, Susan, On Photography (London: Picador, 2010)

Taminiaux, Pierre, The Paradox of Photography (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2009)
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop graduate skills in all four clusters of ability: A) research and inquiry; B) personal and intellectual autonomy; C) communication; and D) personal effectiveness. In particular students will:
A) be able to exercise critical judgement in creating new understanding; be ready to ask key questions; be able to critically assess existing understanding and the limitations of their own knowledge and recognise the need to regularly challenge all knowledge; search for, evaluate and use information to develop their knowledge and understanding; recognise the importance of reflecting on their learning experiences and be aware of their own learning style
B) be open to new ideas, methods and ways of thinking; be creative and imaginative thinkers; be independent learners; be able to make decisions; be intellectually curious
C) make effective use of oral, written and visual means to critique, negotiate, create and communicate understanding; seek and value open feedback to inform genuine self-awareness
D) have the confidence to make decisions based on their understandings and their personal and intellectual autonomy; be able to work effectively with others
KeywordsLiterature,Photography,Intermediality,Visual culture,Image and text,Rhetoric of the image
Course organiserDr Fabien Arribert-Narce
Tel: (0131 6)50 8414
Course secretaryMiss Hope Hamilton
Tel: (0131 6)50 4167
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