Class Syllabus

Download PDF of syllabus here

Professor Sandra Cheng
Office Hours: Tues/Thurs 9-10 am
Office: Namm 602B and by appointment
Email: (best way to contact me)
Phone: 718-260-5003 (not a good way to contact me)
Class Time/Location: Tues/Thurs 10:00 ‚Äď 11:15 am, Atrium 631 (3 credits)

Course Description: This course surveys the history of photography from its beginnings in the early nineteenth century to the present. We will examine the use of photography for aesthetic, documentary, and ‚Äúscientific‚ÄĚ purposes, stylistic shifts in photography related to aesthetic concerns, and varying interpretations of subject matter based on social and cultural concerns at specific moments in history. We will also consider the relationship between photography and the visual arts in general, which culminates with the primacy of photography as a medium by the late twentieth century.

Required Textbook: Mary Warner Marien, Photography, A Cultural History, 3rd Edition, Prentice Hall, 2010 (OK to use the 2nd Edition, several copies of
the 2nd Edition are on reserve in the library)

Learning Outcomes:
Students will,
‚ÄĘ learn the analytical techniques used by art historians,
‚ÄĘ become familiar with key works in the history of photography, the photographers, diverse styles, and working methods,
‚ÄĘ become knowledgeable about the major photographic works linked to historical events, intellectual history, and scientific and cultural trends,
‚ÄĘ acquire a working knowledge of the specialized vocabulary used in art history,
‚ÄĘ enhance their visual literacy and critical thinking skills

Class Expectations: Look and think about what you’re looking at!
Students are responsible for the following: images, names, and vocabulary on the slide lists, information presented in lecture and assigned readings, including the general historical context for all stylistic periods.

Class participation will be considered in determining final grades.

Website: You must access the class website by logging into CityTech‚Äôs OpenLab via /. Instructions on how to signup are on the OpenLab homepage. To access the OpenLab, you will need to register with your CityTech email account (if you haven‚Äôt activated your CityTech email, you need to go to the student helpdesk‚ÄĒ1st floor Namm or 6th Floor Computer Lab in the General Building). Once you register on the OpenLab, locate my course and ask to join!

Slide lists for the lectures will be posted online. Go to the Class Downloads tab on the website. The slide lists have the works of art and vocabulary that you are responsible for on the exams. You will also have access to image files and readings under Class Downloads but these are password-protected (passwords will be provided in class). Although I will show slides that are not on your slide lists or in Marien’s Photography, these unlisted works will not be on the exams.

Writing Assignment #1: Critical Analysis of Sources    15%
Midterm                                                                                 25%
Writing Assignment #2: Exhibition Review                   25%
Final                                                                                        25%
Web homework/In-Class Assignments                           10%

PLEASE NOTE: Failure to turn in a paper or submit an exam/assignment will
result in a zero (0), not F.

Important Dates:
Feb 15, Friday            Last day to drop without W grade
March 7, Thursday   Writing Assignment #1 DUE
March 14, Thursday Midterm Exam
April 18, Thursday    Last day to withdraw with W grade
April 30, Tuesday      Writing Assignment #2 DUE
May 21, Tuesday¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Final Exam, 10:00 ‚Äď 11:15 am, no incomplete work accepted
after this date

Exams: Exams consist of slide identifications (artist name, title of works, medium, dates, significance of work), short answer questions, comparative essays, and definitions of terms/concepts. Make-up exams will only be given for reasons of documented emergency.

Written Assignments: Students are required to write two papers. Information on required papers will be given in separate handouts.
Response paper (3 pp)
‚ÄĒ After reading/viewing several articles online, you will write a short paper on critical issues in photography.
Exhibition Review (4-5 pp)
‚ÄĒ You will be given a list of approved photography exhibitions in New York City. Choose one exhibition to visit and review. Write a review based on your interpretation and analysis. The objective of this review will be to determine the goal of the curator in putting the exhibition together and then to evaluate the extent to which the curator was successful in achieving this goal.

Late papers will be accepted only if students have received prior approval for late submissions.

Web homework/In-Class Assignments: Your homework consists of blogging on the class website. Each week, I will post a Discussion Topic. You may choose to submit a blog post or comment on a fellow student’s post. Instructions for how to post or to comment are located online under Blogging Guidelines. You are responsible for 10 posts or comments (approx. 200-words each). Throughout the semester, you will have the opportunity to work in small groups for in-class assignments. Participation on the blog and class work is mandatory.

Extra Credit: You have the option to do extra credit projects worth 1-3 points each. The projects are due by the last lecture BEFORE the final. These are short written assignments of approx. 500 words. If you complete all the projects well, it is possible to increase your final grade average by 10 points. You will find extra credit assignments posted online under Assignments.

Attendance: Students are expected to attend all classes. More than 3 absences will result in course failure. Excessive lateness will affect your grade. Three late marks equal one absence.

Plagiarism and Cheating: Presenting work by others as your own is completely unacceptable. Plagiarism includes using material from books or the Internet without acknowledging the source as well as submitting something written by someone else. Either will result in a 0 (zero) for that particular assignment/exam. A second instance will result in an automatic F for the course.

Decorum: Please turn off your cell phones, beepers, alarms, etc. and no sleeping, internet surfing, txt msgs while in lecture.

New York City College of Technology Policy on Academic Integrity:
Students and all others who work with information, ideas, texts, images, music, inventions, and other intellectual property owe their audience and sources accuracy and honesty in using, crediting, and citing sources. As a community of intellectual and professional workers, the College recognizes its responsibility for providing instruction in information literacy and academic integrity, offering models of good practice, and responding vigilantly and appropriately to infractions of academic integrity. Accordingly, academic dishonesty is prohibited in The City University of New York and at New York City College of Technology and is punishable by penalties, including failing grades, suspension, and expulsion.


Date      Topic                                                                                                 Reading
1/29  Introduction: Syllabus Review / New Ways of Seeing Marien       Introduction
1/31   Pioneers of Photography: Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot Marien   Ch. 1, Ch. 2 (25-31)
2/5¬†¬†¬† Science, Portraiture, and ‚ÄúArtistic Photography‚Ä̬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ch. 2 (32-75), Ch. 3
2/7     War Photography and the Civil War                                                   Ch. 4 (99-113)
2/14   Civil War Photography cont’d
2/19   Picturing the American West;                                                             Ch. 4 (130-141)
Photography & Social Sciences                                                           Ch. 5 (143-161)
2/21   Pictorialism                                                                                             Ch. 6 (162-174)
2/26   Pictorialism cont’d
2/28   Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession                                         Ch. 6 (174-201)
3/5     Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession cont’d
3/7     Riis, Hine, and Social Reform                                                            Ch. 7 (203-209)
3/12   Motion Studies and Early Film                                                          Ch. 7 (210-216)
3/14   MIDTERM
3/19   European Modernism Between the Wars:                                      Ch. 7 (224-234),
Soviet Photography and Photomontage                                          Ch. 8 (235-241)
3/21    European Modernism Between the Wars cont’d:                         Ch. 8 (242-277)
Dada to Surrealism; Modernism in American Photography
4/4      FSA Photography                                                                                Ch. 9 (278-288)
4/9¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Life Magazine; Cartier-Bresson‚Äôs ‚ÄúDecisive Moment‚ÄĚ;¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† Ch. 8 (257-259),
4/11     War Photography in the 20th Century: Robert Capa, World War II  Ch. 9 (288-309)
4/16     The Family of Man Exhibition and Its Critics                       Ch. 10 (310-317, 330-338)
4/18     Robert Frank and Street Photography
4/23     The Snapshot Aesthetic: Weegee to Larry Clark                         Ch. 11 (338-357
Focus on Diane Arbus
4/25     Photography and Abstraction: Siskind, Callahan, White          Ch. 11(338-347)
4/30     Photojournalism and the Vietnam War                                        Ch. 11 (364-372)
5/2        The Color Revolution                                                                 Ch. 11 (358-364, 372-391)
5/7        Photography’s Critique of Globalization:                                     Ch. 12
Appropriation; Social Issues; Identity Politics
5/9        Postmodernist Photography                                                           Ch. 13
5/14      Image-making Today: Digital Imaging                                        Ch. 14
5/16      Extra day to catch up and mini-review
5/21      FINAL EXAM
please note the final exam date and time TUESDAY MAY 21st 10:00 AM,
NO exams will be given at an earlier or later date
5/23      Exams and papers returned

*Syllabus is subject to change.

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