AMST 236
Making Things Visible: Adventures in Documentary Work Spring 2018
Division II
Cross-listed ENGL 237 / ARTH 237 / SOC 236
This is not the current course catalog

Class Details

Photography, like ethnography, is an art of looking carefully and taking notice. This course will explore the overlaps and resonances between documentary photography and field methods of social science, concentrating particularly on the genre in which the two intersect: the photo essay. The students will try their hand at methods of visual narrative and storytelling, using techniques of interviewing, still photography, and video. Concurrently, we will explore a number of classical and recent examples of investigative work that blend word and image, from Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by Walker Evans and James Agee to the more recent Righteous Dopefiend by Philippe Bourgois and Jeff Schonberg. We will ask questions about the changing practices and expectations associated with the documentarian’s role, and the evolving platforms on which such work can be presented, both off- and on-line. Lastly, we will pose and debate ethical questions that haunt documentary work, including issues of responsibility and politics of representation, as well as the perennial question of whether “objective representation” is even possible or desirable. In addition to readings, students should be prepared to spend a significant time out of the classroom doing fieldwork. Experience in photography and/or video, although not required, will be helpful.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 12
Expected: 12
Class#: 3070
Grading: no pass/fail option, no fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: full participation in discussions, reading response papers, a research journal, field materials, and an independent final project
Extra Info: may not be taken on a pass/fail basis; not available for the fifth course option
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Anthropology and Sociology majors
Unit Notes: In addition to substantial readings, students should be prepared to spend a significant time out of the classroom doing field work.
Distributions: Division II
Notes: meets Division 2 requirement if registration is under AMST or SOC; meets Division 1 requirement if registration is under ARTH or ENGL
This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
ENGL 237 Division I ARTH 237 Division I SOC 236 Division II AMST 236 Division II
Attributes: FMST Related Courses

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