Re-Reading American Photographs
ART H 400 A / ART H 509: Re-Reading American Photographs
Walker Evans, License Photo Studio, 1934. Gelatin silver print, Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Photography was invented in Europe, but its history was written in the United States. Not long after its emergence in 1839, critics claimed photography as a particularly American medium whose development was intertwined with the growth of the nation itself. This seminar-style, discussion-based course surveys new scholarship working to untangle the history of US photography from these ideologies of nationalism, imperialism, and exceptionalism. Focusing on the medium’s first century (1839-1939), we will employ a range of new critical and methodological perspectives to “re-read” some of photo history’s most iconic images. Discussions will center on themes including transnationalism, circulation, materiality, cross-cultural encounter and settler colonialism, movement, and migration.