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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Paul E Berger
ART H 232
Seattle Campus

Photography: Theory and Criticism

Art traditions of photography from its origins in the nineteenth century to the present. Emphasis on photographic traditions and photographers of the twentieth century.

Class Description

This course will survey the history and continually evolving properties of photography as a cultural language and art making tool. The class will survey the aesthetics, technology, and cultural history surrounding the medium of photography, from its beginnings in the 1830ís to the digital imaging of today. Major photographers and the various movements of which they were a part are considered as well as issues of criticism and cultural context. Critical approaches to photography will be surveyed, with empahsis on Modernist and Postmodernist theory.

The Tuesday and Thursday classes will be slide lectures covering the fundamental material, along with an occasional guest speaker. The Friday sessions will emphasize discussion along with some writing, review, and field trips to UW resources.

Recommended preparation

There are no prerequisites for this class. The ability to write a college level research paper is crucial, however. A basic knowledge of American and European history and art history of the 19th and 20th centuries would be helpful.

Class Assignments and Grading

Reading: The textbook, "Seizing the Light: A History of Photography" by Robert Hirsch is assigned reading (500 pages), as well as a Course Pak of reviews, criticism and artist statements (about 150 pages). Writing: Students will also research and write an eight page paper in academic style on a photographer of their choice.

Grades will be based on a quiz, midterm exam, research paper and a final exam. The exams will have short answer and essay questions. A list of possible essay questions will be handed out in class in advance of each exam; some of those questions will be used for the exam.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Paul E Berger
Date: 02/08/2005