Texts and Contexts 1

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Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
307ETAC1 ZK 2 2 seminar hours (45 min) of instruction per week, 32 to 42 hours of self-study English winter

Subject guarantor


Name of lecturer(s)


Learning outcomes of the course unit

Students will be able to develop and critically evaluate theories, concepts and methods of their field and gain insight into contemporary scholarly literature.

Mode of study


Prerequisites and co-requisites

Advanced English, the ability to study and discuss scholarly texts in English.

Course contents

Students will be able to develop and critically evaluate theories, concepts and methods of their field and gain insight into contemporary scholarly literature and canonical works relevant for the thematic areas of the final state exam in history and theory of photography.

The course has the form of regular seminar discussions of scholarly literature. Each semester focuses on one significant title or a selection of texts - students have the reader available before the start of the semester. Students must read required texts before each session and do their own research of other relevant scholarly literature.

The course is taught in English and requires advanced language skills - reading academic texts and discussing them in class.

The readings consist of current theoretical, historical and critical works from photography and visual culture studies and cover five thematic areas of the final state exam in history and theory of photography: Medium specificity, photography and intermediality; Reproducibility (graphic, photographic and digital techniques of reproduction, reproduction and documentation of artworks); Portrait photography and the problem of identity in modern and contemporary societies; Objectivity as an epistemic ideal: scientific photography; Photographer as witness: ethical and political dimensions of photography.

10 October


24 October

Nathan Jurgenson, The Social Photo

7 November

Gerry Badger, It's All Fiction: Narrative and the Photobook

Jan Baetens, Going to Heaven: A Missing Link in the History of Photonarrative?

Jan Baetens, The Photo-Novel, a Minor Medium?

William Henry Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature

21 November

everyone will bring 2-3 photobooks of their choice and introduce them to the class

5 December

Benjamin Buchloh, Gerhard Richter's „Atlas“: The Anomic Archive

Mark Godfrey, Photography Found and Lost: On Tacita Dean's Floh

Marisa Olson, Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture

Recommended or required reading

Recommended literature:

Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. Reflections on Photography. New York: Hill & Wang, 1980. Barthes, Roland. Image, Music, Text. London: Fontana Press, 1977, pp. 15-51.

Barthes, Roland. Mythologies. New York: Noonday Press, 1972.

Batchen, Geoffrey. Every Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2001. Batchen, Geoffrey. Burning with Desire. The Conception of Photography. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1997. Benjamin, Walter. On Photography. London: Reaktion Books, 2015.

Benjamin, Walter. The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media. Cambridge - London: Harvard University Press, 2008, pp. 19-165, 271-314.

Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. London: BBC & Penguin Books, 1972.

Beshty, Walead (ed.). Picture Industry: A Provisional History of the Technical Image, 1844-2018. Zurich: JRP/Ringier 2018.

Burbridge, Ben - Annebella Pollen (eds.). Photography Reframed: New Visions in Contemporary Photographic Practice. London: Bloomsbury 2018.

Crary, Jonathan. Techniques of the Observer. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1990. Durden, Mark (ed.). Fifty Key Writers on Photography. London: Routledge, 2013.

Edwards, Steve. Photography: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Into the Universe of Technical Images. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2011. Flusser, Vilém. Towards a Philosophy of Photography. London: Reaktion Books, 2000.

Foster, Hal et al, Art Since 1900. Modernism, Antimodernism, Postmodernism. London: Thames & Hudson, 2011. Freund, Gisèle. Photography & Society. Boston: David R. Godine, 1980.

Frizot, Michel et al. A New History of Photography. Cologne: Könemann, 1998.

Goldberg, Vicki (ed.), Photography in Print: Writings from 1816 to the Present. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1981.

Lister, Martin (ed.), 2013. The Photographic Image in Digital Culture. London: Routledge, 2013.

Read, Shirley - Mike Simmons (eds.). Photographers and Research: The Role of Research in Contemporary Photographic Practice. London: Routledge 2017.

Rubinstein, Daniel (ed.). Fragmentation of the Photographic Image in the Digital Age. London: Routledge 2019. Sekula, Alan. Photography Against the Grain. Halifax: The Press of Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, 1984. Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador, 2003.

Sontag, Susan. On Photography. London: Penguin Books, 1977.

Sturken, Marita - Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking. An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press 2009.

Tagg, John. The Burden of Representation: Essays on Photographs and Histories. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1988.

Trachtenberg, Alan. Classic Essays on Photography. New Haven, Conn.: Leete's Island Books, 1980.

Warren, Lynne (ed.). Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography. Vol. 1+2. New York - London: Routledge, 2006.

Wells, Liz (ed.). Photography: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge, 2015. Zylinska, Joanna. Nonhuman Photography. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2017.

See also: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B36pcjuZK5yyUW1rVWNzMXRBclU?resourcekey=0-gytR3fQe2cdmu6aSrEpGiA&usp=sharing

Assessment methods and criteria

The course is evaluated by a graded exam. Students must actively participate in the seminar discussions, study required literature, and submit a critical essay (in English, 5-10 pages) by January 8, 2023 (send as pdf to tomdvorak@famu.cz). The exam has the form of a discussion over the submitted text.



Further information

Course may be repeated

Schedule for winter semester 2022/2023:

room 111
Room. No. 111

(Lažanský palác)
(lecture parallel1)
hybrid teaching
Date Day Time Tutor Location Notes No. of paralel
Mon 10:40–12:15 Tomáš DVOŘÁK Room. No. 111
Lažanský palác
hybrid teaching lecture parallel1

Schedule for summer semester 2022/2023:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans