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Vice News advertisement at 120th street and Broadway, July 2014. Photo: NML.
 

THE PHOTOGRAPH (ethics of)
Spring 2014
The Cooper Union

This course was structured around four philosophers of the photograph: Walter Benjamin, Roland Barthes, Ariella Azoulay, and Judith Butler. The mandate is to teach students how to write a fifteen-page research paper and to introduce them to a modern thinker or modern school of thought. Students read excerpts of two major works by each of the aforementioned authors, as well as a novel by William Gibson, Pattern Recognition. At the beginning of each class, students spent half an hour analyzing a photograph in order to build visual analysis skills. Students focused on a photograph or series of photographs of their choice for their final assignment and devoted most of the last third of the term to developing an analysis based on one of the assigned core thinkers.


EXCERPTED SYLLABUS
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Eduardo Cadava, Gabriela Nouzeilles, Joan Fontcuberta, Valeria González, Thomas Keenan, Mauricio Lissovsky, and John Mraz, The Itinerant Languages of Photography (Princeton, New Jersey : Princeton University Art Museum, New Haven, CT : Yale University Press, 2013)
Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Art of Mechanical Reproducibility,” in Robert D. Parker, Critical Theory: A Reader for Literary and Cultural Studies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2012)
Walter Benjamin, “A Little History of Photography,” Walter Benjamin and Michael W. Jennings, Howard Eiland, and Gary Smith, Walter Benjamin: Selected Writings. Vol 2 Part 2 (Cambridge, Mass: Belknap, 2005)
Walter Benjamin, “The Author as Producer,” Walter Benjamin and Peter Demetz, Reflections: Essays, Aphorisms, Autobiographical Writing (New York: Schocken Books, 1986)
Roland Barthes, "The Reality Effect," in The Rustle of Language (New York: Hill and Wang, 1986)
Roland Barthes, "The Rhetoric of the Image," in The Responsibility of Forms: Critical Essays on Music, Art, and Representation (New York: Hill and Wang, 1985)
Neal Stephenson, Reamde (New York: William Morrow, 2011)
Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography (New York: Hill and Wang, 1981)
William Gibson, Pattern Recognition (New York: Berkley Books, 2004)
Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (New York: Routledge, 1997)
Judith Butler, Frames of War: When Is Life Grievable? (London: Verso, 2009)
Ariella Azoulay, The Civil Contract of Photography (New York: Zone Books, 2008)
Ariella Azoulay and Louise Bethlehem, Civil Imagination: A Political Ontology of Photography (London: Verso, 2012)