Texts and Contexts

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
307ETC1 ZK 2 2ST 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 fields 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.

01 - lecture, introduction to the theme, survey of required and recommended literature

02, 03, 04 – discussion seminar, critical interpretation of texts

05 - lecture

06, 07, 08 - discussion seminar, critical interpretation of texts

09 - lecture

10, 11, 12 - discussion seminar, critical interpretation of texts

Recommended or required reading

Current theoretical, historical and critical works from photography, visual culture and media studies.

Required titles are specified at the beginning of each semester. Winter semester 2019:

James Bridle. New Dark Age: Technology and the End of Future. London: Verso 2018. Francois Brunet. The Birth of the Idea of Photography. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIt Press 2019.

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. Each 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. Flusser, Vilém. 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 a kol. A New History of Photography. Köln: 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 Photographies 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.

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 (5-10 pages) at the end of the semester. The exam has the form of a discussion over the submitted text.



Schedule for winter semester 2020/2021:

room 111
Room. No. 111

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

Schedule for summer semester 2020/2021:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

The subject is a part of the following study plans