Photography in Fiction: Study and Practice Winter 2022

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Class Details

Since its invention in the early 19th century, photography has found countless documentary and artistic applications. As an art form, it is not only a medium of its own, but one which has entered into dialogue with other media. Perhaps nowhere has photography been put to such intriguing use as in fiction. Since the early 20th century, authors as diverse as Virginia Woolf, German novelist W.G. Sebald, and the contemporary Nigerian-American writer and photographer Teju Cole have deployed photographs throughout their texts. In this course, we will look at this literary tradition, exploring the way that text and image enter into a complex dance, at times enhancing narrative, at times troubling it. What can we make of these strange and wonderful hybrids? What place do images have in traditional narratives? This class, too, takes a hybrid form: examining exemplary texts, writing our own fiction, and incorporating our own photography. It will be run as both a fiction workshop as well as an English literature class: as we read, write, and look, we will find ourselves not only drawn into the narratives themselves, but sent beyond them, into questions of history, gender, landscape, memory, and more. Evaluation will be based on workshop participation and classroom discussion, brief weekly written responses to our literary texts, critique of peers’ work, and a ten-page creative piece that incorporates fiction and photography. We will typically meet twice a week for three hours of discussion/workshop/writing exercises. The class’s other mandatory requirements consist of two movie screenings and three field trips to the WCMA, Mass MoCA, and The Clark.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 12
Grading: pass/fail only
Requirements/Evaluation: 10-page final paper, short weekly reading responses, and weekly critiques of peers' work
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: by application
Unit Notes: Sara Houghteling is the author of {Pictures at an Exhibition}. She is currently a lecturer in the English Department at Stanford University, where she teaches classes on the intersection of art and literature.
Materials/Lab Fee: $120

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