21A.348 | Spring 2008 | Undergraduate

Photography and Truth


This page contains readings assigned for each class session. Full citations for all text sources are listed below.

1 Introduction  
2 The power and ambiguity of photography Edwards, Short Introduction, chapters 1-5.
3 Looking at faces

Edwards, Short Introduction, review chapters 1-2.

Hamilton & Hargreaves, The Beautiful and the Damned, all.

Trachtenberg, “Illustrious Americans.”

Wells, Physiognomy, pp. 162-165, 168-171, 192-195, 344-345, 360-361, and 382-383.

Kemp, “A Perfect and Faithful Record.”

Banks, Visual Methods, pp. 34-47.

4 Snaps/albums/postcards/ 
itinerants, everyday photography and people’s lives

Edwards, Short Introduction, chapter 6.

Batchen, Geoffrey. “Vernacular Photographies.” History of Photography 24 (Autumn 2000): 262-269.

Katriel, Tamar, and Thomas Farrell. “Scrapbooks as Cultural Texts: An American Art of Memory.” Text and Performance Quarterly 11 (January 1991): 1-17.

Kuhn, “Remembrance.”

Frizot, New History, chapter 41, “Rituals and Customs.”

Jacobbi, Marianne. “Deleting Him.” The Boston Globe, January 13, 2008, p. 38.

Amir, “From Memorial Books to Invaluable Historical Documentation.” (PDF)

Meir Holtzman Album

Sprague, “Yoruba Photography.”

Parker & Neal, Los Ambulantes, pp. 1-22. (skim)

Simmonds, Posy. “Every Picture Tells a Story.” p. 212 in Lenman, Oxford Companion.

5 Truth and deception

Gladwell, Malcolm. “The Picture Problem.” The New Yorker, December 13, 2004, pp. 74-81.

Chéroux, The Perfect Medium, pp. 20-23 and 29-34 (read); pp. 73-78 and 92-94 (skim).

Harvey, Photography and Spirit, pp. 56-69, 70-75, and 80-86.

King, The Commissar Vanishes, pp. 9-13 and 32.

Moon Base Clavius (Read section on photo analysis)

The Truth of the Matter.” (On two famous disputed war photographs)

Brower, Kenneth. “Photography in the Age of Falsification.” The Atlantic (May 1998): 92-111.

6 Advertising photography and gender Goffman, Gender Advertisements, all.
7 Photographing the Great Depression

Guimond, American Photography and the American Dream, chapter 4.

Wright, 12 Million Black Voices, all.

Levine, “The Historian and the Icon,” and Trachtenberg, “From Image to Story.” In Documenting America, pp. 15-71. (optional)

8 Imperialism and photography

Mitchell, “Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order.”

Faris, “A Political Primer on Photography/Anthropology,” (read) and Street, “British Popular Anthropology,” (skim). In Edwards, Anthropology and Photography.

Lutz, Catherine, and Jane Collins. “The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes: the Example of National Geographic.” Visual Anthropology Review 7 (1991): 143-149.

Poole, Deborah. “An Excess of Description: Ethnography, Race, and Visual Technologies.” Annual Review of Anthropology 34 (2005): 159-179.

9 Muck-raking, advocacy, and propaganda

Frizot, New History, chapter 30, “The Way Life Goes,” and chapter 33, “The Involvement of the Photojournalist.”

Dunaway, “Nature on the Coffee Table,” (required) and “Thoreau with a Camera,” (optional). In Natural Visions.

Ferrato, “Living with the Enemy: Domestic Violence.”

Goldberg, “Documenting Poverty.”

Levi-Strauss, “The Documentary Debate,” and “Photography and Propaganda.” In Between the Eyes.

10 Photographing people’s lives: photo-essays and photo-ethnography

Collier, Visual Anthropology, pp. 19-28, 44-63, and 77-97.

Pink, Doing Visual Ethnography, chapter 3.

Banks, Visual Methods, chapter 5.

Bateson & Mead, Balinese Character, pp. xi-xvi, 1, 6-8, 13-23, 64-65, 78-79, 86-87, 96-97, 100-101, 104-105, and 120-121.

Morath, “Pamplona Bullfight,” and Smith, “A Country Doctor.” In Boot, Magnum Stories.

“Spanish Village.” pp. 72-81 in Time - Photojournalism.

11 Looking at pictures, thinking about photography

Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” and Manovich, “The Paradoxes of Digital Photography.” In Wells, The Photography Reader.

Sontag, “In Plato’s Cave.” In On Photography.

Malcolm, “Certainties and Possibilities.”

Collins, Lauren. “Pixel Perfect.” The New Yorker, May 12, 2008.

12 War and suffering in the picture Sontag, Regarding the Pain of Others, all.

Text Sources

Amir, Michlean J. “From Memorial Books to Invaluable Historical Documentation.” In Wolfson, Laurel, and Barbara Leff. Proceedings of the 36th Annual Convention of the Association of Jewish Libraries. La Jolla, CA: AJL, 2001. (PDF)

Banks, Marcus. Visual Methods in Social Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001. ISBN: 9780761963646.

Bateson, Gregory, and Margaret Mead. Balinese Character. New York, NY: New York Academy of Sciences, 1942.

 Boot, Chris. Magnum Stories. New York, NY: Phaidon, 2004. ISBN: 9780714842455.

Chéroux, Clement, et al. The Perfect Medium. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780300111361.

Collier, John, Jr., and Malcolm Collier. Visual Anthropology. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico, 1986. ISBN: 9780826308993.

Dunaway, Finis. Natural Visions: The Power of Images in American Environmental Reform. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2008. ISBN: 9780226173269.

Edwards, Elizabeth. Anthropology and Photography, 1860-1920. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780300059441.

Edwards, Steve. Photography: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780192801647.

Ferrato, Donna. “Living with the Enemy: Domestic Violence.” In Light, Ken. Witness in Our Time: Working Lives of Documentary Photographers. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000. ISBN: 9781560989486.

Fleischhauer, Carl, and Beverly Brannan. Documenting America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988. ISBN: 9780520062214.

Frizot, Michel. A New History of Photography. Köln, Germany: Könemann, 1998. ISBN: 9783829013284.

Goffman, Erving. Gender Advertisements. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1979. ISBN: 9780674341913.

Goldberg, Vicki. “Documenting Poverty.” In Light Matters: Writings on Photography. New York, NY: Aperture, 2005. ISBN: 9781931788632.

Guimond, James. American Photography and the American Dream. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1991. ISBN: 9780807843086.

Hamilton, Peter, and Roger Hargreaves. The Beautiful and the Damned: The Creation of Identity in Nineteenth-Century Photography. Burlington, VT: Lund Humphries, 2001. ISBN: 9780853318217.

Harvey, John. Photography and Spirit. London, England: Reaktion Press, 2007. ISBN: 9781861893246.

Kemp, Martin. “‘A Perfect and Faithful Record’: Mind and Body in Medical Photography Before 1900.” Chapter 5 in Thomas, Ann. Beauty of Another Order: Photography in Science. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997. ISBN: 9780300073409.

King, David. The Commissar Vanishes: The Falsification of Photographs and Art in Stalin’s Russia. New York, NY: Metropolitan Books, 1997. ISBN: 9780805052947.

Kristof, Nicholas D. “Save the Darfur Puppy.” New York Times, May 10, 2007.

Kuhn, Annette. “Remembrance.” In Illuminations: Women Writing on Photography from the 1850s to the Present. Edited by Liz Heron and Val Williams. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780822317845.

Lange, Dorothea, and Paul Taylor. An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1969.

Lenman, Robin. The Oxford Companion to the Photograph. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780198662716.

Levi-Strauss, David. “The Documentary Debate,” and “Photography and Propaganda.” In Between the Eyes: Essays on Photography. New York, NY: Aperture, 2005. ISBN: 9781931788106.

Malcolm, Janet. “Certainties and Possibilities.” In Diana & Nikon: Essays on Photography. New York, NY: Aperture, 1997. ISBN: 9780893817275.

Marien, Mary Warner. Photography: A Cultural History. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006. ISBN: 9780132219068.

Mitchell, Timothy. “Orientalism and the Exhibitionary Order.” In Colonialism and Culture. Edited by Nicholas Dirks. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press, 1992. ISBN: 9780472094349.

Buy at MIT Press Parker, Ann, and Avon Neal. Los Ambulantes: Itinerant Photographers of Guatemala. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1984. ISBN: 9780262660532.

Pink, Sarah. Doing Visual Ethnography. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2001. ISBN: 9780761960546.

Severson, Kim. “Upton Sinclair, Now Playing on YouTube.” New York Times, March 12, 2008.

Sontag, Susan. “In Plato’s Cave.” In On Photography. New York, NY: Picador, 2001. ISBN: 9780312420093.

———. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York, NY: Picador, 2004. ISBN: 9780312422196.

 Sprague, Stephen. “Yoruba Photography: How the Yoruba See Themselves.” In Pinney, Christopher, and Nicolas Peterson. Photography’s Other Histories. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780822331261.

Time Life Library of Photography - Photojournalism. New York, NY: Time-Life Books, 1971.

Timmons, Heather, and J. Adam Huggins. “New York Manhole Covers, Forged Barefoot in India.” New York Times, November 26, 2007.

Trachtenberg, Alan. “Illustrious Americans.” Chapter 1 in Reading American Photographs. New York, NY: Hill and Wang, 1990. ISBN: 9780374522490.

Wells, Liz. The Photography Reader. New York, NY: Routledge, 2002. ISBN: 9780415246613.

Wells, Samuel. New Physiognomy or Signs of Character as Manifested through Temperament. Whitefish, MT: Kessinger, LLC, 2007. ISBN: 9780548001523.

Wright, Richard. 12 Million Black Voices. New York, NY: Basic Books, 2002. ISBN: 9781560254461.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2008