© Bill Barrett 1996
Feedback (general opinions, problems, suggestions, etc.) on this hypersyllabus is encouraged!
Class description: We explore the ways photography has been used to chronicle society around us through the history of the medium. The motives (and results) of a wide variety of existing projects are discussed, as are the circumstances that facilitate, or hinder, the photographers' success. Each student proposes, photographs, and presents a relevant documentary project. A short paper is written and presented. This course is part of Webster University's "Languages Across the Curriculum" project. An additional credit in Foreign Languages may be earned by students with proficiency in a language; see the instructor for more information.
Prerequisites: 9 credits in photography; may be repeated for credit.
How you're graded: Your final grade is based on your performance throughout the semester. Your attendance and active participation count for 25% ; your photographic project counts for 40%; class presentations count for 25%; a written exam counts for 10%. Doing more than required can earn you extra credit; talk to me outside class if you're interested. What grades mean...
What we're doing and when:
Week 1 (8/27). Introductions; the purposes of the course. Documentation and its place in photography and in society.
Week 2 (9/3). Documentary photography in the nineteenth century. What's ethics got to do
with it? Discussion of initial proposals for student photographic projects.
Assignment: Research the work of one of the FSA photographers, and prepare to present the person and the work in two weeks.
Week 3 (9/10). Photography as "social document" in the early twentieth century.
Week 4 (9/17). Roy Stryker and the Farm Security Administration. History, purpose, results.
Assignment: Research the work of a current Magnum photographer, and prepare to present the person and the work in two weeks.
Week 5 (9/27). Initial presentations of student projects.
Week 6 (10/1). Photo agencies and society: Magnum and "the Concerned Photographers."
Week 7 (10/8). A view from outside: Robert Frank and The Americans.
Week 8 (10/15). Tech talk: camera format, film choice, and other stuff we take for granted.
Week 9 (10/29). Crossing the line: commercial work and personal documentation.
Week 10 (11/5). Work in progress: updates on student projects
Week 11 (11/12). Getting dirty: The photographer at risk.
Week 12 (11/19). It's my life: Autobiography and documentation
Week 13 (11/26). See the world: photographing out of a suitcase.
Week 14. (12/3). The social document as personal fantasy.
Week 15. (12/10) Final presentations of student work.
Week 16. (12/17) Final exam.
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