Art History 423

ARTH 423: History of Photographic Media and Camera Arts

Prerequisites: ART 215 or ART 216 or permission of instructor

Credit Hours: (3)

Provides an overview of the history and invention of photography and the camera, an examination of issues related to the development of photography as a tool of science, historical documentation, and art; and the place of photography and more recent developments in digital and video media in the history of art.

Note(s): Students can not receive credit for both ART 451 and ARTH 423.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

Upon completion of this course, students will be able to locate their individual photographic practices within the history of photography and discuss this history in writing. The course surveys the major themes, inventions, and aesthetic developments in the history of photography from the early 19th century through the early 21st. In particular, this course will ask questions about the reciprocal relationships between social thought and developments and photography=s impact on the public understanding of these events, the impact of art on trends in photography, and the impact of photography on trends in recent art.

Preliminary topic areas include:

  • the art/science debate in the 19th century and the art/photography debate in the 20th
  • the earliest developments leading to the invention of photography and the reasons for these developments
  • early forms of cameras and camera arts
  • technological developments and their impact on the uses (and/or abuses) of photography
  • stylistic movements in photography (pictorialism, photo-secession, constructivism, surrealism, etc.)
  • photography and the social landscape
  • portrait photography and the influence of gender
  • mediating the photographic image with text
  • photography and traumatic history
  • advertising, propaganda and the role of photograph


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The primary instructional method will be digital “slide” lectures, group discussions, critical analysis of readings, and presentations of individual research. Students will be asked analyze their own work in the context of their historical studies.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

  • develop familiarity with the history of photography and the camera arts
  • be able to identify key movements, photographers, and significant works, and analyze them usin
  • relate these movements and works to social, economic, and political developments
  • recognize the impact of changing technological processes on photography


Assessment Measures

Term paper case-studies, class presentations, in-class exams, and regular short writing assignments


Other Course Information

Primary and supplementary texts:

Robert Hirsch, Seizing the Light (McGraw-Hill, 2009) (most recent edition)

Other readings will be included to correspond to weekly topics.


Review and Approval