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Photography and Advocacy (Honors)

12:30 Seminar

This course will survey the history of photography with a particular emphasis on documentary photography and its use as a tool for both social advocacy and propaganda. We will examine the social impact of early Progressive Era (1890s-1920s) documentary photographers, such as Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine, as well as the contributions of later photographers who documented the lives of poor farmers during the Great Depression (1930s). These photographers all sought to improve society by exposing the difficult living conditions of its most disadvantaged members. The course will trace the influence of social documentary photography from its beginnings in the late 1880s to the present day. Students will also learn about the history of war photography through an in depth study of photographs from World War I, World War II, and the Vietnam War, conflicts in which all sides routinely employed documentary photographs for propaganda. The course will conclude with an analysis of contemporary documentary photography advocating for environmental sustainability. Readings will include excerpts from Jacob Riis's muckraking Progressive Era book, _How the Other Half Lives_(1890), and Walker Evans and James Agee's groundbreaking Depression Era book _Let Us Now Praise Famous Men_ (1936). We will also study critical writings on the nature of photography by Walter Benjamin and Roland Barthes. The class is designed to help students refine their ability to critically analyze the messages that governments, mass media, and advocacy groups convey through photographs, as well as to teach students about the impact that socially charged photography has had on our culture and history. It will expand upon Pacific Seminar I themes related to critical thinking, the media, civil society, economics, labor, and environmental sustainability.