Photography has been globally disseminated and locally inflected since its invention. In the Middle East, the powers and pleasures of the medium have been valued by colonial forces, indigenous populations, photojournalists and artists; the resulting images merit aesthetic and art historical appreciation even as they grant visual access to the social and political dynamics operative in diverse cultural contexts. We will explore photographic practices in various zones of the Middle East–e.g., the Holy Land, Turkey, Egypt and the Persian sphere–by attending to individual photographers and case studies. This tightly focused approach will support, in turn, a consideration of the agency and power of images more generally–what work do photographs do? Who resists and who benefits? The goal will be to appreciate diverse styles and perspectives that underlie renderings of the Middle East.
Format: lecture; discussion
Grading: yes pass/fail option,
yes fifth course option
midterm, Glow posts, term project
Difference, Power, and Equity
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
Photographs are tricky. Whose experiences and values do they really represent--those who are depicted? Those who wield the camera? Or, those who view images that are so easily reproduced and widely shared? How does identity figure? Religious conviction? Political affiliation? And how are these variables encoded in the material evidence? Appreciating the myriad powers of images requires multiple skills--from close-looking to interdisciplinary analysis--useful in contemporary visual culture.