HISTART 394.101

Special Topics: Photography and (Auto)Biography: From the Daguerreotype to the Digital Image

180 Tappan Hall
TTh 1:00-4:00pm
3 Credit Lecture

From the first days of its invention until the present, artists have used the medium of photography or "light writing" as a form of biography or "life writing." This seminar examines the intersections of these practices in texts and images from the mid-nineteenth century to now. We will explore the implications of the early and everlasting phenomenon of photographic "portraituromania" as a widespread social practice-consider the ubiquity of the selfie today-as well as the careers of individual artists who endeavor to tell stories about their lives and the lives of others, whether actual or invented, through their photographic work. Close attention will be paid to the photo(auto)biographic practices of figures such as Claude Cahun, Sophie Calle, Patti Smith and Agnès Varda, among others. Furthermore, by critically engaging with theories of photography and biography, from Charles Baudelaire, to Roland Barthes and beyond, we will trace evolving and impactful conceptions of the self, identity, subjectivity, objectification and authenticity.

Estimated cost of materials: $50.

Category for Concentration Distributions: D. Europe and the U.S., 4. Modern and Contemporary