21G.049 | Spring 2017 | Undergraduate

French Photography


[Myth] = Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. 2nd ed. Translated by Richard Howard and Annette Lavers. Hill and Wang, 2012. ISBN: 9780374532345.

[NHP] = Weaver, Mike. A New History of Photography. Konemann, 1999. ISBN: 9783829013284.

Ses # Topics Readings
Week 1: Introduction

Photography, France, How to talk / write about photographs

No readings.
Week 2: What is photography? I. (Moment or Network)
2 The Decisive Moment with Special Guest Dr. Nadya Bair


Travelartist Streetphotography. “Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Decisive Moment.” August 31, 2016. YouTube.


Cartier-Bresson, Henri. The Decisive Moment. Steidl, 2015. ISBN: 9783869307886. [Buy from Steidl Books]

Nadya Bair, “The Decisive Network: Producing Henri Cartier-Bresson at Mid-century.” History of Photography 40, no. 2 (2016): 146-166.

3 Making the News
Week 3: What is Photography? II (Science or Art)
4 Is it Technology?


At least one of the videos from the Photographic Processes Series made by the George Eastman House.

Look At

Wilfrid Rouff’s Official Website.


 Warren, Bruce. “Technical History of Photography.” In Photography: The Concise Guide. 2nd ed. Wadsworth Publishing, 2011. ISBN: 9780495897804. [Preview with Google Books]

Daguerre, Louis Jacques Mandé. “Daguerreotype.” In Classic Essays on Photography. Edited by Alan Trachtenberg. Leete’s Island Books, 1980. ISBN: 9780918172082.

Manovich, Lev. “The Paradoxes of Digital Photography.” In Amelunxen, H.V., Stefan Iglhaut, Florian Rotzer, et al., eds. Photography After Photography: Memory and Representation in the Digital Age. Art Stock, 1997, pp. 240–249. ISBN: 978-9057011016.

5 Is it Magic? With Special Guest Photographer Wilfrid Rouff
Week 4: Capturing the World: Albert Kahn to Aerial Photography
6 Albert Kahn & The Archives de la Planète


Okuefuna, David. The Dawn of the Color Photograph: Albert Kahn’s Archives of the Planet. Princeton University Press, 2008. pp. 9–27. ISBN: 978-0691139074.

Murray, Susan. “Digital Images, Photo-Sharing, and Our Shifting Notions of Everyday Aesthetics.” Journal of Visual Culture 7 (2008): 147–163.


CITRIS. “Visualizing Space, Elizabeth Kessler.” November 4, 2014. YouTube.

“Edwardians in Colour: The Wonderful World of Albert Kahn.” Episodes 1–5. BBC (documentary). [Watch Episode 1 on YouTube]

7 Aerial photography and surveillance
Week 5: Likeness and Identity (Portraiture)
8 From Early Portraiture to the Selfie


Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography. Hill and Wang, 2010, pp. 63–73. ISBN: 9780374532338.

[Myth] “The Harcourt Actor.”

Grenier, Roger. A Box of Photographs. University Of Chicago Press, 2013, pp. 6–11 and 104–107. ISBN: 9780226308319. [Preview with Google Books]

Stallabrass, Julian. “On Selfies.” London Review of Books 36, no. 11 (2014): 20.

9 Photography, Identity, & Resemblance
Week 6: Politics, Propaganda, Protest
10 Protest Photography from May ’68 to Nuit Debut


[Myth] “Electoral Photogeny.”

If you don’t read French, please read this article: Reynolds, Francis. “Chim’s Eye: On Photography and Politics.” The Nation. April 15, 2013.

French readers please read this article: Guiol, Elsa et Stéphanie Marteau. “Y a-t-il un président pour sauver la presse people ?M le magazine du Monde. 7 fevrier 2014.

Quinn, Ben. “French Police Make Women Remove Clothing on Nice Beach Following Burkini Ban.” The Guardian. 23 August 2016. 

11 Photography and the President
Week 7: Urban Exploration (Street Photography)
12 Documenting Urbanism


Rob Hooley. “André Kertesz BBC Master Photographers (1983).” April 14, 2013. YouTube.


Morand, Paul. “Foreword.” In Paris by Night. Pantheon Books, 1987. ISBN: 978-0394563275.

Stallabras, Julian. “Paris Pictured: Street Photography 1900-1968.” Royal Academy of Arts, 2002.

Meyerowitz Colin and Joel Westerbeck, “An American in Paris.” In Bystander: A History of Street Photography. 1994_._ pp. 343–350. ISBN: 0-8212-1755-0.

Rafman, Jon. “The Nine Eyes of Google Street View” + Comments. August 12, 2009. Art F City.

13 People in the Streets
Week 8: Research and Investigation
14 Peer Review Workshop


Harold “Doc” Edgerton - How Fast is Fast?” From the Vault Video Collection. MIT+150. Produced by MIT Video Productions for the Edgerton Foundation, 1994.


[NHP] “The Body of Evidence” and “The All Powerful Eye.”

15 Visit to the MIT Museum – Berenice Abbott Archive
Week 9: Marking Art I (Realism & Abstraction)
16 Photography & Painting


Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010. ISBN: 9781453722480.

Krauss, Rosalind. “The Photographic Conditions of Surrealism.” October 19 (1981): 3–34.

17 Visit to MIT LIST Gallery – Charlotte Moth Exhibition
Week 10: Writing Week
18 Exhibition Review Workshop


Exhibition Reviews by Sarah Moroz: “Sarah Moroz: A Media Portfolio.” Sarah Moroz’s tumblr page.

Reviews by Sean O’Hagan: Profile: Sean O’Hagan. The Guardian.


“The Role of the Critic in Photography - Roger Ballen and Shelley Rice in Conversation.” [Watch Part 1 on YouTube; Watch Part 2 on YouTube]

Week 11: Tourism & Travel
19 The Postcard


Steinorth, Karl. “Photography for Everyone.” In You Press the Button We Do the Rest: The Birth of Snapshot Photography. Dirk Nishen Publishing, 1988. ISBN: 9781853780103.

Alloula, Malek. The Colonial Harem. University of Minnesota Press, 1986, pp. 1–26. ISBN: 9780816613847.

20 Snapshot photography
Week 12: Making Art II (Institutions)
21 Museum Visit


Baudelaire, Charles. The Salon of 1859. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. ISBN: 9781503306233.

[NHP] “Photographic Institutions and Practices.”

Solomon-Godeau, Abigail. “Calotypomania: The Gourmet Guide to Nineteenth-century Photography.” In Photography at the Dock: Essays on Photographic History, Institutions, and Practices. University of Minnesota Press, 1994. ISBN: 9780816619146.

22 Photography and the Art Market / Museum
Week 13: Surveillance & the Law
23 Photographs as Witnesses


Tucker, Jennifer. “How Facial Recognition Photography Came to Be.”

Gunning, Tom. “Embarrassing Evidence: The Detective Camera and the Documentary Impulse.” In Collecting Visible Evidence. University of Minnesota Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780816631360. [Preview with Google Books]

Laurent, Oliver. “Protecting the Right to Photograph, or Not to Be Photographed.” The New York Times, April 23, 2013.

Estrin, James. “Criminalizing Photography.” The New York Times, August 14, 2012.

24 Photography as Crime
Week 14: Spreading the News (Humanistic Photography and Ethics)
25 Humanist photography


Sontag, Susan. “Looking at War.” The New Yorker, December 9, 2002.

[NHP] “Looking at Others: Humanism and Neo-realism.”

[Myth] “Shock Photos” and “The Family of Man.”

Lavoie, Vincent. “War and the iPhone: New Fronts for Photojournalism.” Translated by John Tittensor. Etudes Photographiques 29 (2012).

26 Aesthetics and Suffering

Course Info

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