History | Colloq Latin American History
H665 | 28397 | D. James

Topic: Photography and Historiography
A portion reserved for majors, open to graduates only

Photographic images form an increasingly prevalent supplement to
historical research. Yet they are still rarely analyzed critically
or theoretically. The power and meaning of the visual is largely
taken as self evident and self-explanatory. They are a visual
flourish to the essential drive of the traditional archival work
that underlies the historical narrative. The aim of this course is
twofold. First it seeks to introduce the student to a range of
critical writings on photography and the visual. This will involve
engaging with selected texts by writers such as Roland Barthes,
Walter Benjamin, Alan Trachtenburg, John Tagg, John Berger, Ariella
Azoulay, Jens Anderman(among others). The varied critical approaches
to viewing and interpreting the photographic image will be explored.
These critical readings will form the core of the first
section, “Photography and the Photographic Archive”. In the second
section of the course we will use this critical framework to explore
certain concrete historical uses of photography as part of a
historical archive. The principal case studies will focus on North
America (the documentary tradition) and Latin America where will
look at the work of scholars such as Deborah Poole, Jens Anderman.
Different genres of photographic image will also be explored (eg
family albums, snapshots, professional studio images) as part of
these case studies.

Required texts:
Jessica Evans and Stuart Hall, “Visual Culture: The Reader”
Alan Trachtenburg, “Reading American Photography”
Deborah Poole, “Vision, Race and Modernity”
Jens Anderman, “The Optic of the State. Visuality and Power in
Argentina and Brazil”

Evaluation for the colloquium will be based on an end of term paper
based on a topic agreed upon between professor and student.
Evaluation will also be based partially on active participation in
class. Every student will be required to produce a two page
commentary on readings each week. This will be shared by email will
all participants in the class.