SOC 219
Images and Society Spring 2023
Division II

Class Details

“This is obvious!” is what we say when we believe our point is irrefutable. But images are far less obvious than we may like to think. This course will create a forum for discussing the role of images in our lives, as well as the place of the visual in social inquiry. It will explore the variety of ways in which images–and even vision itself–are shaped by the social and cultural context in which they are embedded, develop skills for critical analysis of existing representations, and address the analytical possibilities and limitations of the study of signs and images. The course will touch upon a range of visual material, from advertising to paintings, but the bulk of the course is dedicated to photography, both as an object of visual analysis and as, increasingly, a research method in social sciences. Topics for discussion include debates around truth in photography and the politics of representation, changing uses of photography in institutional settings, different photographic cultures and their anthropological and sociological significance, as well as the use of photography in social research. Primary sources for the discussions will be drawn from a variety of spheres, from Soviet propaganda posters to Indian studio portraiture, and will include the images we encounter in everyday life, media, politics, academia, “high” art and pop culture.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 15
Expected: 15
Class#: 3596
Grading: no pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: active class participation, several short papers, and a final paper
Prerequisites: none; open to all
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Distributions: Division II
Attributes: FMST Related Courses

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