History and Theory of Photography

Subject 107-262 (2009)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2009. Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject is not offered in 2009.

Time Commitment: Contact Hours: A 1-hour lecture and a 1.5-hour tutorial per week for 12 weeks
Total Time Commitment: 2.5 contact hours/week , 6 additional hours/week. Total of 8.5 hours per week.
Prerequisites: Usually 12.5 points of first-year art history.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Charles Green
email: c.green@unimelb.edu.au

Subject Overview: This subject traces the history of international and Australian photography from the medium's invention to the 21st century. It also examines the theories that accompanied photography's evolving place as an art form and as a medium that was continually and profoundly affected by changing technologies. The subject will investigate photography's role as a document, as a witness to events and to changing ideas of the body, race and gender. Students will encounter the evolution of the medium, its intersection with existing artforms, and the documentation of the modernising city, the frontier and distant colonial possessions by travelling photographers. They will look at the impact of 20th century modernism in the creation and legitimisation of the new art form, and consider the recording of nation-building by Australian photographers, the indispensability of photography to propaganda and advertising from the 1920s onwards, the snapshot revolution of 1970s conceptualist photography, the avant-garde and then postmodern artists who appropriated photography as the medium most suited to critical art practices and then to the simulation of 'reality', and the emergence of new digital photography at the start of the 21st century.
  • understand key issues in international and Australian photographic history;
  • understand key issues in the theory of photography;
  • be able to identify and locate photographs and their associated critical frameworks within specific social, historical and theoretical contexts;
  • be able to conduct independent research using catalogued sources and bibliographical indexes.
Assessment: Written work which may comprise class papers, an essay and a take-home examinations totalling 4000 words. All pieces of written work must be submitted as a hurdle requirement for this subject. Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved formal extension will be penalised at 2% per day. Students who fail to submit up to 2-weeks after the final due date without a formal extension and special consideration will receive a fail grade for the piece of assessment.
Prescribed Texts: A subject reader will be available.
Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • be able to research through the competent use of the library and other information sources, and be able to define areas of inquiry and methods of research in the preparation of essays;
  • be able to conceptualise theoretical problems, form judgements and arguments and communicate critically, creatively and theoretically through essay writing, tutorial discussion and presentations;
  • be able to communicate knowledge intelligibly and economically through essay writing and tutorial discussion;
  • be able to manage and organise workloads for recommended reading, the completion of essays and assignments and examination revision;
  • be able to participate in team work through involvement in syndicate groups and group discussions.
Related Course(s): Bachelor of Creative Arts
Bachelor of Creative Arts and Bachelor of Music
Bachelor of Creative Arts and Bachelor of Teaching
Diploma in Arts (Art History)
Diploma in Creative Arts
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Art History
Art History
Art History
Art History Major

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