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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Caroline Chung Simpson
ENGL 363
Seattle Campus

Literature and the Other Arts and Disciplines

Relationships between literature and other arts, such as painting, photography, architecture, and music, or between literature and other disciplines, such as science. Content varies.

Class description

Literature and the Other Arts: Writing and Photography

In the last century, the reliance on reading and writing texts in order to form or express ideas has been largely replaced by mass viewing and visual recordings of our experiences. Or so the argument goes. Rather than jumping to any dire judgments about this shift, or trying to explore the entire field of visual culture, this course will focus instead on the particular ways in which writers and critics debated or understood the effects of an increasing reliance on photography to shape perceptions. We will need to grasp both the history of the development of photographic practice and circulation, as well as how the development of photography’s social usefulness set off provocative claims about photography’s effects on, among other things: traditional social relations; political culture; and, of course, the uses and value of writing and reading. Most readings will be collected in a course packet, including, among other things: short works by Henry James, Edgar Allen Poe, John Dos Passos, and James Agee and Walker Evans; criticism by Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Shawn Smith, Martha Rosler, and John Tagg. In addition to the course packet, we’ll read two novels, the graphic novel Palestine by Joe Sacco, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer.

Student learning goals

Students will become familiar with some of the major debates and theories on photography.

Students will be able to provide interpretive arguments about these debates and theories, in discussion and writing.

Students will be able to expand on or further refine their interpretations of the theory when reading literary-photographic texts.

General method of instruction

Class discussion, minimal lecture.

Recommended preparation

None

Class assignments and grading

In addition to regular attendance and participation in in-class discussion and groupwork, students will be required to complete regular reading responses, and to complete one of two written project options. (One option requires that students complete two short essays, the other requires the completion of a final, longer essay.)


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 Caroline Chung Simpson
Date: 10/20/2010