This module aims to introduce students to a wide range of issues related to the medium of photography, including technological and theoretical ways of thinking about its history. It will be taught across the entire period of the mediums development in order to emphasise particular qualities of the medium. Particular questions about the relation of popular photography to fine art practice will be examined in depth drawing out comparisons between past uses of the medium and the present. The way in which photography can inform questions of relationality the relations between subjects will be particularly emphasised, particularly the way in which systems of archiving, and images of atrocity are used in order to achieve particular, often unstated, ideological ends. We will use local resources as part of the course, including personal images, photographic collections at the York Railway Museum, The Borthwick Archives and the Media Museum in Bradford as well as thinking about fine art practices. Students will develop an independent research topic throughout the module and will discuss this regularly with the group.
Module learning outcomes
To enable students to think critically about the status of photography as a fine art practice.
To question the claims made to documentary truth made by the photographic medium.
To develop a specialist vocabulary for discussing the technological aspects of photographic practice.
To gain a broad knowledge of both current photographic theory and the historical discourses in which it was understood in the past.
To gain insight into the physical properties of the photograph and to have direct experience of handling photographs as objects.
Choosing and developing an independent research topic
Building a bibliography
Presenting ideas clearly and accessibly to the group with appropriate visual support
Working with a range of texts from across disciplines and discussing them with the group.
Possible seminar outline:
Technology and the Index
The Body in the Archive
Photography as a Fine Art
Conceptual Art and Photography
% of module mark
Special assessment rules
% of module mark
Feedback on summative assessment within 20 working days.
Alan Sekula, The Body and the Archive in Richard Bolton ed. The Contest of Meaning (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 1992)
Martha Rosler, In and Around and Afterthoughts on the Bowery in Decoys and Disruptions, (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004)
Ariela Azoulay, The Social Contract of Photography, (Cambridge, Mass: Zone Books, 2010)
Susan Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, (London: Penguin, 2004)
Judith Butler, Frames of War, (London: Verso, 2010)
Sarah James, Common Ground, (New Haven: Yale, 2012)
John Tagg, The Burden of Representation, (Minnesota, 1993)
John Tagg, The Disciplinary Frame: Photographic Truths and the Capture of Meaning, (Minnesota, 2009)
Christopher Pinney ed, Photography s Other Histories, (Durham, NC: Duke, 2003)
Carol Mavor, Reading Boyishly, (Durham, NC: Duke, 2008)
Carol Mavor, Pleasures Taken, (Durham, NC: Duke, 1996)
Anne Higonett, Pictures of Innocence, (London: Thames and Hudson, 1998)
Margaret Iversen ed, Photography After Conceptual Art, (London: Wiley, 2010)
John Roberts, The Art of Interuption, (Manchester: 1998)
Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish, (London: Penguin, 1991)
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida, (London: Vintage, 1993)
Georges Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All, (Chicago: 2010)
Georges Didi-Huberman, The Invention of Hysteria, (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004)
Lucy Soutter, Why Art Photography?, (London: Routledge, 2013)
Alexander Alberro, Conceptual Art and the Politics of Publicity (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2004)
Walter Benjamin, A Short History of Photography in One Way Street, (London: Penguin, 2009)
Julian Stallabrass, Documentary, (Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press, 2013)
Julian Stallabrass, Memory of Fire, (Brighton: Photoworks, 2013)
Geoffrey Batchen et al, Picturing Atrocity, (London: Reaktion, 2012)
Susie Linfield, The Cruel Radience: Photography and Political Violence (Chicago: 2012)
Kate Bush, Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s, (London: Barbican, 2012)
James Elkins ed Photography Theory, (London: Routledge, 2007)
Charlotte Cotton, The Photograph as Contemporary Art, (London: Thames and Hudson, 2009)
Clement Cheroux et al, The Perfect Medium, (New York: Metropolitan Museum, 2005)
John Harvey, Photography and the Spirit, (London: Reaktion, 2007)
Jorge Ribalta ed, Jo Spence: Beyond the Perfect Image, (Barcelona: MacBa, 2005)
Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses
The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.
Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.