21G.049 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

French Photography


Visual Analysis Papers

Over the course of the semester, students are required to submit 3 visual analysis papers of 1,300 words each. Using visual and formal analysis as well as context discussed in readings and in class to explore the meaning of one or a pair of images. Students have the option of writing about the materials presented in different weeks, as detailed below.  

Week 1

Write about the following photograph:

Week 2

Write about the following photograph:

Week 3

Niépce Photos

Photo by Nicéphore Niépce, “View from the Window at Le Gras.” 1826 or 1827. Look at both copies of the photo - if you like, you may compare the two (even though they are technically the ‘same’ photo) in the image gallery below.

Week 4

In 1917, Fernand Cuville was employed by both the Photography section of the French army and the Archives of the Planet. Write about the autochrome by Cuville, “Children Playing Skittles, Place d’Erlon” found in the image gallery below. 

Week 5

Harcourt Photos

Compare the two photos:

Week 6

This photo was taken in August 2016. Released by Vantage News, no photographer named:

Week 7

Write about the following photograph:

Research & Investigation

Write about one of these two photographs (found in the gallery below), or compare them:

  • Doc Edgerton, high-speed photograph of a hummingbird, mid-twentieth century
  • Composite photo of a pelican in flight by Étienne-Jules Marey, c. 1880s

Week 8

Write about Henry Peach Robinson’s, “Fading Away” 1858, which is a composite photograph made from five negatives (see gallery below).    

Week 9

You may write about a photo from the Tourneboeuf exhibition, as long as you did not already write about the photo in depth in your exhibition review.

Week 10

Tourism and Travel

Write about one of the two postcard photographs in the gallery, or compare them. Think this week about function as well as meaning.

  • Postcard 1: The writing translates: “Algerian types. Moorish woman.” Handwritten: “I am sending you a package for pickup at the railway station. The babies are doing well; they have just walked by the beach. I shall write you shortly at greater length. Warm kisses to you all. [signed:] Martha.”
  • Postcard 2: Paris, Eiffel Tower. The handwriting translates: “September 15, 1904. In remembrance of the last day I was in Paris.” A young woman mailed it from Paris to her home address in Leipzig.



Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2017
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments
Image Gallery