This course examines the effect of photography upon human consciousness, upon other media, upon political systems and thus upon the making of history. Photography is revealed as a shaper of the past and as a defining - albeit sometimes unreliable - recorder of it. The course will encourage you to develop your critical faculties when interpreting photographic evidence and constructing historical narratives. ‘How the Camera Changed History’ is an image-rich voyage through a range of photo-media, concentrating on the first hundred years of the camera. We will venture from the Victorian drawing room to the war front; from the great theatres of industrial power to the image making of photographers in imperial outposts. The course will include behind-the-scenes inspections of photography collections at major institutions in Canberra.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:Upon successful completion of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Understand the historical context in which photographic technology emerged in the nineteenth century;
- Analyse how the dissemination of photography influenced historical events and how they were perceived;
- Interpret photographs and films as historical evidence in a sophisticated manner;
- Demonstrate sophistication in their use of photography in writing and illustrating historical narratives; and,
- Reflect critically upon debates about visual culture and the 'information revolution' in the modern epoch.
Indicative AssessmentResearch Essay of 3000 words, 50% (LOs 1, 2, 3, 4, 5)
Photographic Essay, to be constructed in Powerpoint, with visual and written components, 40% (LOs 1,2,3,4,5)
Oral and/or written contribution to class activities - 10% (1, 2, 3, 5)
In response to COVID-19, ANU has changed the mode of delivery for all classes in Semester 1 2020 to remote delivery.
Semester 1 Class Summary information (available under the Classes tab) on this publication is as up to date as possible. Changes to Class Summaries not captured by this publication will be available via Wattle and students should have been advised by the offering College. Find out more information on the University's response to COVID-19 here.
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Workload130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact over 12 weeks: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorial and tutorial-like activities; and
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing.
Requisite and Incompatibility
Prescribed TextsSusan Sontag, On Photography (1977 and later editions) plus course reading brick.
Assumed KnowledgeStudents enrolling in this course are expected to be able to reflect critically on primary historical evidence and to apply the work of historians and other theorists in interpreting it. Experience of courses in visual art, art history, cinema theory, anthropology, media studies, curatorship and digital humanities is desirable. Successful completion of any of the following courses will be highly beneficial: ‘Introduction to Art and Design Theory’ 1 & 2 (School of Art); ‘Memory’ (School of Art); ‘Introduction to Film and New Media’ (School of Cultural Inquiry).
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.
- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees. Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.