History of Photography: Technology, Document, Art

This course provides a critical overview of photography from pre-photographic times to the present. Given that there is no single history, but only histories of the medium, the course will explore a variety of approaches to the study of photography, its emergence as a technology for documenting the world, its evolution in relation to other art forms, its connection to other fields of knowledge (i.e., medicine, anthropology, history, post-colonial studies), its role in the development of mass culture, and its use as a means of social control. Students will consider the photographic image in a range of contexts, including art, advertising, journalism, and propaganda, and will explore the social, political and ethical consequences of photographic media in contemporary culture. This course will make active use of photographic materials in local collections for both seminars and written assignments.

Erika Wolf:

Erika Wolf came to SAS from the University of Otago (New Zealand), where she taught from 2003 to 2018. A native New Yorker, she completed a bachelor's degree at Princeton University and then trained in curatorial studies at the Whitney Museum's Independent Study Program. Erika then completed a doctorate in the History of Art and a master's degree in Russian & Eastern European Studies at the University of Michigan. Recognized internationally as an expert on Soviet photography and Russian visual culture, she has contributed to exhibition projects at the Reina Sofia Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago. Erika has received fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the International Research Exchange Board, the Center for Advanced Studies of the Visual Arts, the Kennan Institute, and the Harriman Institute. She is an Honorary Research Associate of the Munich Graduate School for East and Southeast European Studies at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (Germany).