AH 331 Syllabus
History of Photography
Imogen Cunningham, Martha Graham, 1931


Spring 2019
Monday and Wednesday 2:30 to 3:45 PM
Moulton Center 213
Instructor: Denise Johnson
Office Hours by appointment
Quick Links:



Course Description

AH 331 - History of Photography offers a survey of photography from 1839 to the present. Emphasis will be placed on the relationship of photography to other arts and current critical issues in the field.

Photography is so much a part of our private and public lives, and it plays such an influential role in our environment that we often forget to examine its aesthetics, meanings, and histories. Considering fine art and mass media practices, the class will examine the works of individual practitioners as well as the emergence of technologies, aesthetic directions, markets, and critical theories.

During our investigation we will model the activities of art historians–we will read, write, present, discuss, and research. Students are encouraged to establish a critical eye that is actively engaged in questioning through a shared learning experience. Think of the classroom as your lab, the textbook as your guide, and writing assignments as an adventurous expression of what you’ve learned!

Objectives & Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:


Learn major artists and photographic movements from its invention to the present;


Be able to identify and compare the aesthetic and philosophical characteristics associated with the major movements of fine art photography;


Become familiar with the resources in fine art photography that are available to be directly experienced in Southern California;


Analyze and evaluate the social, political, and technological developments of art photography;


Learn the predominant theoretical ideologies influencing photographic movements and be able to recognize and apply them when looking at photographic works; and


Synthesize strategies in critical theory to write analyses of photographic works.


Program Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the course will:

Develop the writing competencies used in the discipline of art history;


Locate works of art and visual culture within the context of world art history and articulate the relationship between intended meaning/function and audience response in specific cultural and historical contexts;


Conduct advanced art historical research using the full range of scholarly resources; and


Recognize the theoretical concerns of art history and its allied disciplines, and discuss and apply specific theoretical perspectives to a given art historical context and to their own research projects.


General Education Learning Outcomes
7AI Artistic Inquiry: students compose critical or creative works that embody or analyze conceptually an artistic form at a baccalaureate/pre-professional level.
7SI Social Inquiry: employs theories of how people frame and analyze social and/or historical phenomena.



Instructional Website

This class will be taught from the instructional website The Slide Projector at, www.theslideprojector.com. Lecture presentations, assignments, and other course materials will be available for you at this site and you will need to access it regularly.

Additional essays will be posted to the AH 331 Assignments page at www.theslideprojector.com and exams will be taken outside of class on Blackboard at blackboard.chapman.edu.

Required Textbook

Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2015). ISBN 978-0205988945

Photography: A Cultural History
Recommended Texts

Sylvan Barnet, A Short Guide to Writing About Art, any edition, 10th or 11th preferred (Boston: Pearson Education Inc.). ISBN 978-0205708253

A Short Guide to Writing About Art
Camera Lucida
The Contest of Meaning
On Photography



Instructional Strategies
Students will work toward course objectives through: active participation in class discussions; student reports on readings; in-class partner exercises; reading assignments; writing assignments; exams; viewing images and videos; and attending of an off-campus exhibition that will require a commute, and may entail a parking fee, and/or entrance fee.



Major Study Units
Writing with light
New Vision

• Previsualization

• Victorian optical amusements

• Straight photography

• Zone System

• Chemical experiments
• Modernism and the avant-garde
The Family of Man
The Daguerrotype
Healing the Madness
The Americans
The Calotype
• Dada

• Street photography

Wet-Plate Collodion

• Photomontage

Vietnam War
New Images
• Surrealism
The Question of art

• Appropriation

Imaging The Other
• Social reform movements

• Culture Wars

Amateur practices

• Photojournalism

• Identity Politics

• Theory of sacrifices

• FSA and FAP

• Body Politics

• Kodak

• Halftone printing

Death of photography

• Snapshot

• Life Magazine

• Digital vs. analog

Decisive Moment

• Photo market

• Photo Secession

• Photographer’s Eye
• Camera Work
Group f/64



Methods of Evaluation

Students will be evaluated on the presentation of evidence that they have achieved the course objectives; frequency and quality of their contributions to in-class discussion; on their ability to make oral and written critical observations about the works of art, artists, movements, and concepts presented in the course; on the quality of the writing they present in written assignments; and on their ability to demonstrate growth in their understanding and application of the history and theory of photographic works from its invention to the present.

There are 500 points possible, which will be earned through the following components:

Class Participation - 15%

Students may earn up to 75 participation points through the following activities:

  • Actively and consistently contributing to in-class discussions and applying theoretical ideas to works to earn up to 25 points;
  • Reporting on at least five assigned readings on the class Reading Blog by outlining three main points or “take aways” from the reading. Your challenge is to avoid repeating the comments made in previous posts. Posts must be made during the week the reading is due (not all at once, and not at the end of the semester). Each post may earn up to 5 participation points; and
  • Attending one lecture in the Visual Thinker Lecture Series, the Art History Symposium, or the Bensussen Lecture, and submitting a VTLS Report on Blackboard within two weeks of the event may earn up to 25 participation points. Please be reminded that Art, Graphic Design and Art History majors and minors are required to attend all VTLS.

Writing Assignments 45%

Students may earn up to 75 points on each of three assignments detailed in the Assignment Packet. You will be offered multiple choices for each submission.


Exams 30%

Students will take three exams worth 50 points each on the course Blackboard page at https://blackboard.chapman.edu. Due to the nature of online testing, and the multi-day duration offered to submit, exams may not be made up. Please use the class schedule to plan accordingly.


Final Presentation 10%

During our scheduled final exam period, each student will be asked to give an in-class presentation on a photograph that is of significance to you, and discuss the image up to ten minutes.


In preparation, each student will be asked to submit a presentation plan that identifies the photograph you’ll be speaking about, a methodology for your analysis, and citations for your sources worth 15 points. The presentation itself will be worth a maximum of 35 points.


Extra Credit

Students are limited to earning a maximum of 25 points, 5% of the total points possible (500), in extra credit points during the semester. Any points earned above this cap will NOT be applied to the final grade.



Points on writing assignments will be earned through committed consideration of the material, demonstration of learned concepts and language, and evidence of critical thinking. In addition to the individual requirements, each writing assignment will earn points based on rigorous analysis, demonstrated comprehension of assigned readings, critical reflection, thoughtful response to questions posed, and active engagement with the material.
100 to 97%
500 - 483 points

Writing demonstrates excellence in both articulation and critical thinking. Art historical methodologies are used thoughtfully and with skill. Questions are answered thoroughly, and discussion is carried beyond question prompts with sophistication. Credible scholarly sources are employed to support the author's position, and Chicago Manual of Style citation rules are carefully followed. The written assignment leaves little to no room for improvement, and demonstrates committed interest in the discipline.

A -
96 to 90%
482 - 448 points
B +
89 to 87%
447 - 433 points

Writing demonstrates clear focus and an above average consideration of the subject matter. While all questions have been answered, there is room for improvement by carrying the analysis and discussion beyond basic responses to the essay prompts. Writing exhibits potential for excellence however, a clearer application and understanding of the art historical methodologies is needed. Author has met the requirements for research and citations with few errors. Thesis could be served by additional research.

86 to 84%
432 - 418 points
B -
83 to 80%
417 - 398 points
C +
79 to 77%
397 - 383 points

Most of the material is understood, but the focus is not entirely clear, and analysis is cursory. Question responses could be more fully realized, and the material, more thoroughly examined. Distracting citation, grammatical, and/or spelling, issues are present, little research was executed in support of thesis, and/or sources are not credible, academic, or scholarly. There are issues with language that make the writing difficult to understand.

76 to 74%
382 - 368 points
C -
73 to 70%
367 - 348 points
D +
69 to 67%
347 - 333 points

Writing demonstrates little understanding or connection with the material and is flawed in content and form. Question responses do not provide evidence of critical thinking. Major citation issues are present, no research was executed in support of thesis, and/or sources are not credible, scholarly, or academic. Issues with language make the writing very difficult to understand.

66 - 64%
332 - 318 points
D -
63 - 60%
317 - 298 points
< 59%
297 - 0

Work fails to meet any requirements satisfactorily.



Assignment is incomplete but shows potential. Student is offered one additional class day to revise, add to, and resubmit the assignment.



Instructor Policies
Commitment to the Conversation

Art historians do not work in secluded spaces that are entirely disconnected from the world around them. Therefore, conversation and debate will be central to the learning experience this semester. Given the importance of engagement, students will be expected to fully commit to in-class dialogues and will agree to refrain from sleeping, texting, emailing, and completing class assignments during class meetings. Distracted students may be asked to leave class until their full attention can be directed to our course.

Notes on Note Taking

Some students benefit greatly from taking notes during class, others gain more by completely immersing themselves in the dialogue. However, no student is assisted in their learning by social media alerts, text messages, work on class assignments, online shopping, pop-up ads, news feeds, or catching up on errands during class time. Although laptops and smart phones are powerful tools that are sold to us on the (increasingly false claim) that they help us to be more efficient and productive, their potential to distract and disrupt our learning is significant enough to warrant alarm. This can be especially true for classmates with different learning styles than your own who might be substantially distracted by the flashes and swipes happening in your Gucci shopping bag, even if they don’t seem to be a bother for you. For this reason, students are asked to keep laptops and phones safely tucked away in bags or pockets during class time, and encouraged to take hand-written notes rather than typed transcripts of class discussions. Think of class time as a luxury–you’ve just been given an hour and 15 minutes, two times a week, to clear your head, and practice deep focus on an incredible subject. ❤️

Respect is Key
This semester, we will consider provocative, challenging, even vulgar subject matter and imagery. It is assumed that each of us undertakes this learning endeavor with honorable intent and a commitment to understanding diverse perspectives and histories. When this is difficult, we agree to keep an open mind and to respect all views and identities–even those with which we do not personally agree. While engaging in class activities, we agree to refrain from using derogatory, inflammatory, or otherwise disrespectful language. We do so, fully committed to the principles of academic freedom outlined in the 2016 Chapman University Faculty Manual, holding “that the widest possible scope for freedom of expression is the foundation of an institution dedicated to vigorous inquiry, robust debate, and the continuous search for a proper balance between freedom and order.”

Regular attendance is mandatory. You are permitted two unexcused absence without damage to your grade. More than two missed classes will potentially lower your grade, and missing four or more classes will put you at risk of failing (FW) the class. Please also be punctual! Students arriving 15 or more minutes late should expect to be marked absent for the entire class.

Letting the instructor know that you will be absent by email is appreciated! Please understand, due to the large number of emails received, the instructor may not be able to reply to your absence notification. Additionally, the instructor will maintain a simple record of attendance that will not distinguish between excused and unexcused absences. If you are not present, you are not able to participate. The circumstances that prevented you from being able to attend class, however unfortunate, do not change this.

Assignment Submission

Please submit all coursework–including VTLS reports, drafts, and extra credit assignments–on the class Blackboard page before class begins, on the day the assignment is due, whether you will be absent or in attendance. If you encounter a problem with your submission, please notify the instructor immediately, and attach your completed assignment to the message. Assignments will not be graded via email.

All coursework must be submitted by the last class meeting, on Wednesday, May 8.

Late Assignments
You may submit one assignment, one week late. The late assignment will not be marked down, and you do not need to receive prior permission for the late submission from the instructor. However, any late assignments in addition to the one accepted assignment, will only receive credit at the discretion of the instructor.



Chapman University Policies
Academic Integrity Policy
Chapman University is a community of scholars which emphasizes the mutual responsibility of all members to seek knowledge honestly and in good faith. Students are responsible for doing their own work, and for submitting coursework completed this semester, for this class. Academic dishonesty of any kind will not be tolerated anywhere in the university. Academic dishonesty of any kind will be subject to sanction by the instructor/administrator and referral to the university's Academic Integrity Committee, which may impose additional sanctions up to and including expulsion. Please see the full description of Chapman University's policy on Academic Integrity at www.chapman.edu/academics/academic-integrity/index.aspx.
Students with Disabilities
In compliance with ADA guidelines, students who have any condition, either permanent or temporary, that might affect their ability to perform in this class are encouraged to inform the instructor at the beginning of the term. Upon recommendation of the Center for Academic Success, adaptations of teaching methods, class materials, including text and reading materials or testing may be made as needed to provide for equitable participation.
Equity and Diversity Policy

Chapman University is committed to ensuring equality and valuing diversity. Students and professors are reminded to show respect at all times as outlined in Chapman’s Harassment and Discrimination Policy: at www.chapman.edu/faculty-staff/human-resources/eoo.aspx. Any violations of this policy should be discussed with the professor, the Dean of Students and/or otherwise reported in accordance with this policy.



Writing Center
All Chapman students are welcome to meet with Writing Center tutors, who can help you with any part of the writing process, from understanding the assignment and finding a significant topic to editing your final drafts. The Writing Center is located in DeMille Hall 130. To guarantee time with a tutor, call (714) 997-6828 or email tutor@chapman.edu to schedule an appointment.
Food Pantry
Students in need of access to the food pantry should contact Sherri Maeda-Akau in the Office of Residence Life and First Year Experience at maeda@chapman.edu.
Sexual Assault

If you have been sexually assaulted, make sure you are in safe place. Call 911 in an emergency, and:
Chapman University Public Safety at (714)997-6721
Chapman University’s Sexual Assault Information Line at (714) 744-7000
Orange PD at (714) 744-7444

Student Psychological Counseling
If you are in need of help or support immediately you can contact:
CU Student Psychological Counseling - (714) 997-6778
Suicide Prevention Hotline - (800) 273-8255
Drug and Alcohol Abuse Hotline - (800) 662-HELP
National AIDS/STD Info Hotline - (800) 458-5231



Class Schedule and Required Reading
This is a tentative schedule that may change. Assignment directions and due dates will be posted on The Slide Projector. Updates will be announced in class, on lecture presentations, and modified on the Syllabus page of The Slide Projector.
Discussion Topic
Assignment & Reading Due
January 28
January 30
Before Photography
Introduction - page 7
February 4
The First Photograph
February 6
Mirror with a Memory
Pages 8 - 16
The Daguerreotype
February 11
Photography's Re-Invention
Pages 16 - 29 & 56 - 73
February 13
The Expanding Domain
Pages 30 - 41 & 43 - 55
February 18
Imagining the West
Pages 42 , 96 - 140 & 222 - 227
February 20
Question of Art
Pages 74 - 95
February 25
Amateur Visions
Exam 1
February 27
The Other
Assignment 1
March 4
Bearing Witness
Pages 140 - 159, 214 - 222
March 6
Pages 160 - 179 & 182 - 194
March 11
Photography's Salvation
Pages 180 - 181, 194 - 199, & 208 - 214
March 13
New Vision
Pages 230 - 240 & 260 - 335
March 18
Spring Break
March 20
March 25
Social Documentary
Pages 228 - 229, 240 - 259
March 27
Healing the Madness
April 1
Decisive Moment
Exam 2
April 3
Group f/64
Assignment 2
April 8
Hitler's Bath
April 10
The Family of Man?
Pages 336 - 347
April 15
The Americans
Pages 348 - 391
April 17
Snapshot Aesthetic
April 22
Through the Lens of Culture
April 24
Frames of Unrest
Pages 392 - 491
April 29
The Simulacra
Assignment 3
May 1
Culture Wars
Presentation Plan
May 6
Digital Ciphers
Chapter 14
May 8
Death of Photography?
Exam 3
May 16
Final Exam Presentations 10:45 to 1:15 PM



Important Dates
Late Registration
The last day to add this courses is Friday, February 8.
Drop Deadline
Students wishing to drop the course without record must do so by Friday, February 8. The last day to change grading option to P/NP is Friday, March 1, and to withdraw from a course is Friday, April 12.
Final Exam
The in-class final exam for this course is mandatory, and will not be offered at an alternative date, except under extenuating circumstances. The instructor understands that holidays and travel circumstances come with much urgency and pressure. Nonetheless, the hours set aside for the final exam are a part of your earned credit and as such, are an important component of your grade. Our final exam will be held on Thursday, May 16 from 10:45 to 1:15 PM.
Grades must be submitted by the instructor by Monday, May 27.