Week 5. History of Photography

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Material Histories and Cased Images

Morning Session: 10-12am Portland 2.3

Afternoon session: 1:30-4pm Portland 1.24 with guest Graham Wood


Studying photography as a material history, as we have been doing off and on this semester, is a particular theoretical viewpoint. This morning's lecture will situate this material approach in the current literature and encourage you to think about what you have been taught so far this semester.

Required Reading for the Morning Session

Elizabeth Edwards and Janice Hart, "Introduction:Photographs as Objects" to Photographs, Objects, Histories: On the Materiality of Images (London and New York: Routledge, 2004) 1-15

Lorraine Daston ed. Introduction Things that Talk (London: Zone Books)

Further Reading on Material Culture

Igor Kopytoff "The cultural biography of things: commoditization as process" in Arjun Appadruai ed. The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986) 64-91.

Elizabeth Edwards, 'Photography and the Material Performance of the Past' in Jennifer Tucker ed. History and Theory Issue 48 (December 2009), 130-150.

Bruno Latour, Chapter 3 "Objects too have Agency" in Reassembling the Social (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005).

Alfred Gell, Art and Agency: An Anthropological Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1998)


Handling session and cased image history - Graham Wood

For the afternoon session there will be opportunity to handle a number of cased images of the three main 'types'- Daguerreotypes , Ambrotypes (also known as Collodion positives) and Tintypes (Ferrotypes),and to distinguish between these three types . I would like the members of the group to study individual images and to describe them for example as you would in a museum catalogue taking as much information as possible from both the image and the case. We will also look at the diferent images in a social context - to try to determine who the images were made for , where the images where made and approximately what date , and in a number of cases who the photographer was. Also a broad look at the changes in photography going on particularly in the 1850's which saw a massive increase in photographic output. The session will be very much a discussion session ( Graham )


Roger Watson. Notes from Visit to MA in History of Photography. Leicester: De Montfort University.

Further Reading

Rinhart, Floyd and Rinhart, Marion. American Miniature Case Art (South Brunswick: A.S. Barnes, 1969).

Feedback ( )

The feedback is due by the Monday after the session is offered.

This material should be provided as a short response to the following three questions:

1. In one sentence for each, please note two or three main ideas from this session.



2. What concept(s) need more reinforcement?


3. What two or three aspects of this session did the group like/dislike and why?


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