How has the camera shaped the way we see ourselves, and the world around us? How are photographers and writers--sometimes self-consciously and sometimes unwittingly affected by the definitions of what it means to be an American? What does something American look like? In this class, we'll try to answer that question in all its complexity by looking at both photographic and written documents, from the late nineteenth century, when photography was a relatively new technology, to the present. How can we "read" a photograph? What kinds of ethical and aesthetic concerns are involved in recording "reality?" What is the relationship between art and social concerns? How do photographs tell stories, and with what consequences?
Only listed classes in section: Freshman, Sophomore
Only the following students: Honors Program
Attributes: Writing Intensive Course, Inquiry (Discovery), Honors course, Fine&PerformingArts(Discovery)
Additional Course Details:
We'll try to answer these questions—provisionally, to be sure--in all their complexity by focusing on a single and iconic American archive: the photographs of and by indigenous people from the early days of photographic technology (@ 1840) to the present. North American history, literature, art history, anthropology all play a role in our reading and discussion. As we do so, we’ll bear in mind that images not only document a moment in time but also are catalysts for reinterpreting and reclaiming suppressed stories across time; we'll try to resist what Louis Owens calls the tendency "to see what we bring." For your final projects, you're invited to apply what you've learned to images and archives of your choice.