Texts and Contexts 2

Display Schedule

Code Completion Credits Range Language Instruction Semester
307ETC2 ZK 2 2T English, Czech summer

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 and canonical works relevant for the thematic areas of the final state exam in history and theory of photography.

Mode of study


Prerequisites and co-requisites

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

Course contents

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 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: Vernacular (amateur and commercial) photography; Vision machines and apparatuses: technical conditions of photography; Art as postproduction: found, appropriated, recycled and archived images; Photographic canon and its institutions (historiography, exhibitions, market); Photography and new media (remediation, computational photography, operative images, technological convergence).


dear colleagues,

as the coming weeks/months are rather uncertain we need to figure out a way how to finish the Text and Contexts course at a distance – given this a reading/writing seminar it won’t be such a problem but we have to skip the discussions, hopefully we will be able to meet at the end of the semester to discuss your essays at least. if not, i will provide feedback by email…

so far we have read Szendy’s “The Supermarket of the Visible” that opened up the semester topic of “economy of images” – that is the relationship between art, photography and technical images at large on the one hand and economy, market, circulation and value on the other hand

as originally planned, you will have to deliver a critical essay (5-10 standard pages, 1800 characters including spaces per one page) by 31 May. below is a list of recommended literature, you can also look for your own, of course – i have uploaded the books to our drive where you can find also other relevant sources:


you have two options for your essay topics:

  1. focus on the semester theme of the economy of images and find a specific angle of your interest (this can be anything from a critical literature review to analysis of particular case studies)
  2. if you don’t feel comfortable with the topic since we haven’t had much time to discuss it together, you can write a proposal for your master thesis instead – you will be working on your master theses next academic year but we can use this opportunity to start defining the topics now – the page-count and deadline for the essays is the same but you may choose whatever topic you like, provided this will be an outline of your next year thesis. keep in mind the thesis is 40 pages long so the themes shouldn’t be too broad. you can write me with short suggestions first and i will try to recommend relevant literature for you…

i hope these two options will work well for you and also recommend to use the time we need to spend at home now for reading and writing as much as possible:)

hope you’re all well and keep safe!

best, Tomas

Hans Abbing, Why Are Artists Poor? The Exceptional Economy of the Arts. Amsterdam University Press 2002.

Theodor Adorno, The Culture Industry: Selected Essays on Mass Culture. Routledge 1991.

Ash Amin – Nigel Thrift (eds.), The Blackwell Cultural Economy Reader. Blackwell 2004.

Geoffrey Batchen. Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination. Prague: NAMU - Sydney: Power Publications 2018.

Oskar Bätschmann, The Artist in the Modern World: The Conflict Between Market and Self-Expression. Yale University Press 1998.

Jonathan Beller, The Cinematic Mode of Production: Attention Economy and the Society of the Spectacle. Dartmouth College Press 2006.

Walter Benjamin, The Writer of Modern Life: Essays on Charles Baudelaire. Harvard University Press 2006.

Isabelle Graw, High Price: Art Between the Market and Celebrity Culture. Sternberg 2009.

Richard Lloyd, Neo-Bohemia: Art and Commerce in the Postindustrial City. Routledge 2010.

Max Haiven, Art After Money, Money After Art: Creative Strategies Against Financialization. Pluto Press 2018.

Noah Horowitz, Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market. Princeton University Press 2014.

David Maclagan, Outsider Art: From the Margins to the Marketplace. Reaktion Books 2009.

Raymonde Moulin, “The Genesis of the Rarity of Art”, Art in Translation 3/4/441-472.

Maria Slowinska, Art/Commerce: The Convergence of Art and Marketing in Contemporary Culture. Transcript 2014.

Juian Stallabrass, Art Incorporated: The Story of Contemporary Art. Oxford University Press 2004.

Peter Szendy, The Supermarket of the Visible: Toward a General Economy of Images. Fordham University Press 2019.

Don Thompson, The $12 Million Stuffed Shark: The Curious Economics of Contemporary Art. Palgrave 2008.

Don Thompson, The Supermodel and the Brillo Box: Back Stories and Peculiar Economics from the World of Contemporary Art. Palgrave 2014.

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.

Summer semester 2020:

Peter Szendy, The Supermarket of the Visible: Toward a General Economy of Images. New York: Fordham University Press 2019.

Geoffrey Batchen. Apparitions: Photography and Dissemination. Prague: NAMU - Sydney: Power Publications 2018.

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) by 31 May 2020. The exam has the form of a discussion over the submitted text.

DEADLINE UPDATE: if you have failed to submit your text by 31 May, your new and final deadline is 22 June 2020 (missing the original deadline will affect your grade)



Schedule for winter semester 2020/2021:

The schedule has not yet been prepared

Schedule for summer semester 2020/2021:

room 111
Room. No. 111

(Lažanský palác)

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

The subject is a part of the following study plans