ARTH 1100-D400 History of Photography
Tues/Thurs 10-11:30 am Section Only


*Syllabus is subject to change.

Professor Sandra Cheng
Office: Namm 602B
Office Hours: Mon 10:00-11:00 am, Tu/Th 9:00-10:00 am and by appointment
Email: (best way to contact me)
Phone: 718-260-5003 (not a good way to contact me)
Class Time/Location: Tuesday & Thursday 10:00 – 11:30 pm, 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 “scientific” 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, 4th Edition, Prentice Hall, 2015  (it is OK to use earlier editions, several copies, including earlier editions are on reserve in the library)

Learning Outcomes:

Students will,

  • learn the analytical techniques used by art historians,
  • become familiar with key works in the history of photography, the photographers, diverse styles, and working methods,
  • become knowledgeable about the major photographic works linked to historical events, intellectual history, and scientific and cultural trends,
  • acquire a working knowledge of the specialized vocabulary used in art history,
  • 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’s 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 have not activated your CityTech email, you need to go to a student helpdesk—1st floor Namm or 6th Floor Computer Lab in the General Building). Once you register on the OpenLab, locate my course (Humanities Department, Fall 2013) 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.


Assignment #1: Response Paper                                          20%
Midterm                                                                                   25%
Assignment #2: Exhibition Review                                    20%
Final                                                                                        25%
Homework                                                                               10%
PLEASE NOTE:  Failure to turn in a paper or submit an exam/assignment will
result in a zero (0).

Important Dates:

October 13, Tuesday                    Writing Assignment #1 DUE
October 20, Tuesday                    Midterm Exam
November 9, Monday                   Last day to withdraw with W grade
December 1, Tuesday                  Writing Assignment #2 DUE
December 17, Thursday               Final Exam, 10:00 – 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 (4 pp)
— After reading/viewing several articles online, you will write a short paper on critical issues in photography.

Exhibition Review (4-5 pp)

— 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.

Homework: Your homework consists of blogging on the class website. Students are responsible for submitting 5 blog posts (200-300 words) and 5 comments (200 words).  Instructions on how to post are located online under Blogging Guidelines. Participation on the blog is mandatory.

In-Class Assignments: You will have the opportunity to work in small groups for in-class assignments throughout the semester.  Participation in class exercises 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.

Lecture Schedule and Reading Assignments

Week Date Topic  Reading
1 8/27/15


Introduction: Syllabus Review/ New Ways of SeeingPioneers of Photography: Niepce, Daguerre, Talbot Marien Introduction;
Marien Ch. 1-2 (25-31)
2 9/3/15


Science, Portraiture, and “Artistic Photography”;  War Photography and the Civil War Marien Ch. 2 (32-75), Ch. 3 (76-98), Ch. 4 (99-113)




3 9/17
Civil War Photography cont’d, Picturing the American West Marien Ch. 4 (99-141)
4 9/25/15 ***NOTE DAY OF 9/25 CLASS ***
Photography and the Social Sciences; Pictorialism
Marien Ch. 5 (143-161), Ch. 6 (162-174)
5 10/1


Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession  Marien Ch. 6 (174-201)
6 10/8


WRITING ASSIGNMENT #1 DUE on TUESDAY OCTOBER 13Alfred Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession cont’d;Riis, Hine, and Social Reform 


Marien Ch. 7 (203-216)
7 10/15


Motion Studies and Early Film MIDTERM on TUESDAY OCTOBER 20
8 10/22


European Modernism Between the Wars, Soviet Photography and Photomontage; Dada to Surrealism Marien Ch. 7 (224-234), Ch. 8 (235-277)
9 10/29


Modernism in American Photography; FSA Photography Marien Ch. 8 (257-259), Ch. 9 (278-309)
10 11/5


Life Magazine; Cartier-Bresson’s “Decisive Moment”; War Photography in the 20th Century: Robert Capa, World War II
11 11/12


The Family of Man Exhibition and Its Critics; Robert Frank and Street Photography Marien Ch. 10 (310-317, 330-338), Ch. 11 (338-357)
12 11/19


The Snapshot Aesthetic: Weegee to Larry Clark (Focus on Diane Arbus) Marien Ch. 11 (338-357)
13 12/1


WRITING ASSIGNMENT #2 DUE TUESDAY DECEMBER 1stPhotojournalism and the Vietnam War; The Color Revolution Marien Ch. 11 (358-391)
14 12/8


Postmodernist Photography and Digital Imaging: Appropriation; Social Issues; Identity Politics Marien Ch. 12-14
15 12/1512/17 Postmodernist Photography cont’d


please note the final exam date and time is


NO exams will be given at an earlier or later date




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *