Approved by Faculty Senate.

 

 

Winona State University

Proposal for new course

Dept: Mass Communication Date: Feb. 15, 2001

Course: MCOM 115 / PHOTOGRAPHY APPRECIATION / 3 credits

Undergrad course; does not apply to major or minor; does apply to Gen Ed, Humanities category.

Prerequisites: none

Grade and P/NC options

Frequency: at least once per year

Dept. contact person: Drake Hokanson, ext. 2405, dhokanson@winona.edu

 

I. The following addresses the points listed on the New Course Proposal Form B, found in WSU Regulation Number 3-4, "Policy for Curriculum Change."

A. Course Description

1. Catalog description:

An introduction to the art and expression of photography through lecture, photography assignments, discussion, and critique. Students will complete photo assignments tied to major themes of the course using simple cameras and commercially-processed film. Emphasis on wide range of genres and important photographers and their work from 1839 to the present.

2. Course outline:

(Presented here thematically, not chronologically)

I. The nature of the photograph

A. As artistic expression or document?

B. Photography's relationships to and place in the visual arts

C. Forms of the photograph: fine art print to snapshot to billboard

II. Reading photographs

A. Subject

B. Object

C. Photographers' intentions

D. Viewers expectations and background

E. Context

III. Perspectives from which to consider photography

A. Cultural

B. Historical

C. Aesthetic

D. Technical

E. Critical

III. Content groupings

A. Fine art

1. Photography as pure expression

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

B. 19th century photography

1. Birth and development of photography in the industrial revolution

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

C. Landscape

1. Landscape as subject

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

D. The city

1. City as subject

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

E. The portrait

1. The human image

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

F. The body

1. Humans as sculpture

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

G. Documentary

1. Photographs to change the world

2. Selected photographers

3. Their work in cultural and historical context

3. Basic instructional plan and methods:

The course follows a step-by-step progression beginning with larger theoretical concerns about the nature of photographs and how to read them and progresses toward discussion of specific genres, eras, and styles to material about specific photographers, their work and contributions to the world of images.

Methods will include:

Lecture with visual material (via slides or LCD projector): Larger concepts and the work and lives of individual photographers will be presented in standard visual lecture format. Selected video material will also play a role in this area.

Discussion: Class discussion will emphasize and clarify visual concepts and solidify student understanding of photographers' works and contributions to the visual arts.

Photography assignments: Students will be required to produce and analyze three photo assignments that will teach the rudiments of creating photographs for artistic or expressive purposes. Students can use an ordinary point-and-shoot camera, or even a disposable camera for their assignments. Students' film and prints will be developed by local commercial houses; there is no darkroom component to the class.

Critiques: Students will verbally critique the photo assignments of their peers and will be expected to write critiques on certain topics during the semester.

Group presentation: During the semester students will form groups to make a class presentation on a selected photographer or photographic genre.

4. Course requirements:

Quizzes: Will cover lecture material, text chapters, any videos, student presentations, etc.

Critiques: Students will write (and be graded on) several short critiques of photographers' works and other topics.

Exams: A midterm and final

Photography assignments: Each will be graded according to the criteria of the specific project.

Group presentations: Will be graded (see above).

Class participation and attendance: Will comprise part of the total course grade.

5. Textbook(s):

The Photograph, Graham Clark, Oxford History of Art, Oxford University Press, 1977

Alternative texts will be explored

6. List of references and bibliography:

This is a selected list; the whole is longer and still under development.

Abbott, Berenice. New York in the Thirties. New York: Dover, 1973.

Adams, Robert. Denver. Denver: Colorado Associated University Press, 1977.

Durham, Michael. Powerful Days: The Civil Rights Photography of Charles Moore. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 1991.

Frank, Robert. The Americans. New York: Scalo, 1993.

Goin, Peter. Nuclear Landscapes. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1991.

Imes, Birney. Whispering Pines. Jackson: Mississippi, 1994.

Johnson, Drew and Marcia Eymann, ed. Silver and Gold: Cased Images of the California Gold Rush. Iowa City: Iowa, 1998.

Klett, Mark. Second View: The Rephotographic Survey Project. Albuquerque: New Mexico, 1984.

Lahs-Gonzales, Olivia. Defining Eye: Women Photographers of the 20th Century. New York: D.A.P., 1997.

Lucey, Donna. Photographing Montana. New York: Knopf, 1990.

Maddow, Ben. W. Eugene Smith: Let Truth Be the Prejudice. New York: Aperture, 1985.

Panzer, Mary. Mathew Brady and the Image of History. Washington: Smithsonian, 1997.

Plowden, David. The Hand of Man on America. Riverside: Chatham, 1971.

Reed, Eli. Black in America. New York: Norton, 1997.

Riis, Jacob. How the Other Half Lives. New York: Dover, 1971.

Snyder, Joel. American Frontiers: The Photographs of Timothy H .O'Sullivan, 1867-1864. Millerton: Aperture, 1981.

Thall, Bob. Perfect City. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1994.

Thompson, Jerry. Walker Evans at Work. New York: Harper & Row, 1982.

B. Rationale

1. Statement of major focus and objectives:

Photography may be the most accessible of the arts, and is thus an ideal subject for a Fine and Performing Arts University Studies course. Its relationship to other arts from painting to dance is well known and will form an important theme in the course. The focus is on photography as a fine art--rather than as a recording medium or image-making technology--and will include works of such greats as Robert Frank, Berenice Abbott, Jacob Riis, and Dorthea Lange as well as works of lesser-knowns like Bob Thall, Eli Reed, and Evelyn Cameron.

The course will highlight both women and minority photographers, classes of image makers still too often overlooked in the canon.

It will look at photography as art, as expression of culture, as expression of history. It will allow students the opportunity to use simple cameras to produce and analyze photographic assignments that challenge their assumptions about photography as being merely something we think of when the family is gathered around the Thanksgiving table, and the potatoes are getting cold.

The overall objective of the course is to provide students with a much deeper understanding of the power and breadth of photography through the last 160 years, and its value to them and the world today as a democratic and ubiquitous medium of expression.

2. Contribution to department curriculum:

Little to none. The course is proposed as a University Studies course and has no affect on the MCOM curriculum.

3. Courses that may be dropped if this course is approved:

None

C. Impact

1. Does the course increase or decrease total credits required by any major or minor?

No

2. Departments consulted:

I've discussed the proposal with Anne Plummer, chair of the Art department

D. General Education

1. Written justification for the course being a Gen Ed:

Since the focus of this course is photography as art, means of expression, means of documentary, rather than a technical "how-to" course, it fits very naturally into the Humanities area of the existing General Education program.

2. If the course is open to majors, how will it serve the needs of both majors and non-majors?

Photography Appreciation will be open to majors and non-majors alike, but it will be neither a required course for the Mass Com major nor an elective. The course is intended as a University Studies service course alone.

**Proposed syllabus attached.

 

University Studies Course Approval:

Department or Program: Mass Communication

Course Number: MCOM 115

Course Title: Photography Appreciation

Catalog Description:

 

An introduction to the art and expression of photography through lecture, photography assignments, discussion, and critique. Students will complete photo assignments tied to major themes of the course using simple cameras and commercially-processed film. Emphasis on wide range of genres and important photographers and their work from 1839 to the present.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2: No

This is a new course proposal: Yes

Department contact person:

 

Drake Hokanson

Mass Communication, B-10 Phelps

457-2405

dhokanson@winona.edu

 

 

 

II. The following material addresses points 1-4 under "Material to be submitted for course approval for Required Courses" in the University Studies Course Approval application.

1. "Course proposals must address all specified outcomes."

See # 2 below.

2. "The course proposal must include documentation of course requirements and learning activities designed to meet the course outcomes specified for the area."

1. "explore the language, skills, and materials of an artistic discipline"

While not a technically-based course (there is no darkroom component, for example), students will learn a great deal of the critical and technical vocabulary of the art, and will have useful exposure to advanced photographic equipment and materials beyond what they'll be using for class. As to skills, the primary skill of any photographer is the development of her or his "eye," the ability to squint through that little square hole and make photographs that intrigue us.

Examples from course content: The text, lecture, videos, and discussion will make clear much of the language and vocabulary of photography. Since the course will be taught by working photographers, the instructors will be encouraged to bring to class equipment, materials, and images of their own to demonstrate how working photographers work, or to bring in other working photographers. The photography assignments shot by the students will be considerable exploration of the skills of this artistic discipline.

2. "use the methods of an arts practitioner to actively engage in creative processes or performances"

The students will fully participate in the process of creating art for the class including conception, planning, execution, and presentation.

Examples from course content: The three photography assignments.

3. "understand the cultural and gender contexts of artistic expression"

Female and minority photographers are underrepresented in the canon of photography, and will therefore be highlighted.

Examples from course content: in-class lectures/presentations/discussions on the likes of Evelyn Cameron, Dorthea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, etc., and on the likes of Eli Reed, Gordon Parks, Eikoh Hosoe. In addition, students will be encouraged to choose female and minority photographers for their presentations.

4. "engage in reflective analysis of his or her own work and respond to the works of others"

Analysis of the work of photographers, including their own, will be a significant component of the course.

Examples from course content: Class discussions will center on analysis of photographers' work and its context. In addition, the written analysis that is part of each photo assignment will provide students with ample opportunity to analyze their own work. Lastly, the class critique sessions of student assignments will give them good opportunity to respond to the photographs of their peers.

3. Syllabus that identifies the course as a U.S. course: See attached syllabus.

4. Syllabus that includes information about course activities and assignments that address course outcomes: See attached syllabus.

 

 

Proposed syllabus for:

 

MCOM-115 PHOTOGRAPHY APPRECIATION

Day and time??

FALL SEMESTER, 2001

Winona State University

 

q Course Description:

Photography Appreciation is a three-credit-hour course that fulfills the University Studies requirement for Fine and Performing Arts.

In this course, you'll learn about photography as an artistic and expressive medium, a bit of its history, its genres, its strong connections to the other arts, something of its technology, and a good bit about photographers who have helped shape our vision of the world and the great photographs they have made. You'll learn to "read" photographs, learn a vocabulary for discussing them, learn how to critique them from several critical perspectives, and most important, you'll learn how to make and analyze a number of your own.

Here's what the University Studies policy documents say about what this course must contain (italics) and what activities and assignments meet those criteria:

1. "explore the language, skills, and materials of an artistic discipline"

While not a technically-based course (there is no darkroom component, for example), students will learn a great deal of the critical and technical vocabulary of the art, and will have useful exposure to advanced photographic equipment and materials beyond what they'll be using for class. As to skills, the primary skill of any photographer is the development of her or his "eye," the ability to squint through that little square hole and make photographs that intrigue us.

Examples from course content: The text, lecture, videos, and discussion will make clear much of the language and vocabulary of photography. Since the course will be taught by working photographers, the instructors will be encouraged to bring to class equipment, materials, and images of their own to demonstrate how working photographers work, or to bring in other working photographers. The photography assignments shot by the students will offer considerable exploration of the skills of this artistic discipline.

2. "use the methods of an arts practitioner to actively engage in creative processes or

performances"

Students will fully participate in the process of creating art for the class including conception, planning, execution, and presentation.

 

Examples from course content: The three photography assignments.

3. "understand the cultural and gender contexts of artistic expression"

Female and minority photographers are underrepresented in the canon of photography, and will therefore be highlighted.

Examples from course content: in-class lectures/presentations/discussions on the likes of Evelyn Cameron, Dorthea Lange, Imogen Cunningham, etc., and on the likes of Eli Reed, Gordon Parks, Eikoh Hosoe. In addition, students will be encouraged to choose female and minority photographers for their presentations.

 

4. "engage in reflective analysis of his or her own work and respond to the works of others"

Analysis of the work of photographers, including their own, will be a significant component of the course.

Examples from course content: Class discussions will center on analysis of photographers' work and its context. In addition, the written analysis that is part of each photo assignment will provide students with ample opportunity to analyze their own work. Lastly, the class critique sessions of student assignments will give them good opportunity to respond to the photographs of their peers.

 

q Textbook:

--The Photograph, Graham Clark

plus,

--Material I will present and/or hand out in class throughout the semester.

q Required Materials:

--A simple point-and-shoot camera

--3-5 rolls of 20 or 24 exposure color print film plus processing

--a 9x12 manila envelope (with your name across the top)

 

q Assignments and Grading:

Quizzes and critiques 10%

To make sure you understand concepts presented in lecture and in the text, we will have quizzes from time to time. I'll also assign critiques of things we look at and discuss in class. Quizzes and critiques will be unannounced and cannot be made up.

Self portrait assignment 5%

See assignments below

Photography assignments 1 - 3 30%

See assignments below

Group presentation 10%

See assignments below

Midterm exam 15%

Final exam 15%

Attendance, promptness, and participation 15%

After about the first week of class, I will not take roll. Nonetheless, I expect regular class attendance; quizzes, critiques, off-the-wall assignments will be frequent and cannot be made up if you miss them. All assignments must be turned in on time; that is, in class on the date due. Late assignments and other assignments will earn zero credit. No excuses.

 

 

 

 

Final course grades are as follows:

A = 90-100%

B = 80-89

C = 70-79

D = 60-69

F = anything below 60%

q Calendar:

**Because of the unpredictable nature of opportunities and delays, there are always deviations from the calendar below. I will announce them in class. Be there.

WEEK 1

Tu. Class intro--self-portrait assignment

Th. The Photographer's Eye

WEEK 2

Tu. The Photographer's Eye

Th. Self-portrait assignment due--class critique

WEEK 3

Tu. Ch. 1 & 2: What is a photograph?/Reading a photograph

Th. Technology 101

WEEK 4

Tu. Ch. 3: Photography in the 19th century

Th. Photo assignt #1 due--class critique

WEEK 5

Tu. Ch. 4: The landscape

Th. Photographs and photographers

WEEK 6

Tu. Ch. 5: The city

Th.

WEEK 7

Tu. Ch. 6: The portrait

Th. Midterm exam

WEEK 8

Tu. Ch. 7: The body

Th. Critical perspectives

WEEK 9

Tu. Ch 8: Documentary

Th. One photographer's work

WEEK 10

Tu. Ch. 9: Fine art photography

Th. Work on group presentations

WEEK 11

Tu. Group presentations

Th. Group presentations

WEEK 12

Tu. Group presentations

Th. Photographs and photographers

WEEK 13

Tu. Ch. 10: Manipulated images

Th. Photo assignment #2 due--class critique

WEEK 14

Tu. Ch. 11: Infinite curiosities

Th. New frontiers in photography

WEEK 15

Tu. Review for final

Th. Photo assignment #3 due--class critique

 

 

(These are example assignments intended to give you an idea of the kinds of projects I propose; I do not want them to be seen as a definitive list.)

 

Major Assignments--Photography Appreciation

 

Fall 2001

 

 

Self-Portrait Assignment

Use a point-and-shoot camera (or most any other kind) and a 20 or 24 exposure roll of color print film to take a roll of self-portraits. Take two kinds of self portraits: 1) at least a couple "mug shots," straight-on images that clearly show your face, and 2) the remainder should be shots that reveal something of your character, your personality. Use your imagination for #2. Go to a favorite place. Act out a fantasy. High points awarded for innovative approaches to the assignment. (My hidden agenda: this assignment will help me learn your names.)

Remember, this is a self-portrait assignment; you should take the photographs yourself using the camera's self-timer (almost all cameras have them) with the camera either on a tripod or propped up on something. Keep in mind also that most point-and-shoot cameras will not focus much closer than about four feet.

The assignment is completed by turning in:

q a 9x12 envelope (with your name on the top) that contains:

q the prints from your roll (any size) with "#1" and your name written on the back of your favorite image,

q and a half-page (or more) typed analysis of the assignment that explains how this self-portrait reveals something of your individuality plus details about how well the assignment went. Consider: As viewers, how do we think about a portrait differently if we know it's a self portrait rather than one taken by someone other than the subject?

Do not turn in your negatives.

 

Due in class Thursday, ??. Late assignments earn zero credit. Begin today such that you have time to ruin the first roll of film when you shoot it, time to allow the film lab to lose the second, and still have time to shoot a third, get it processed, write the analysis and get it in on time.

 

Main Photography Assignments

Each student must complete two of the four photographic assignments below. Please read the descriptions carefully before making your choice.

You'll need only a simple point-and-shoot camera--or even a disposable camera--and a roll of 20 or 24 exposure color print film.

The assignment is completed by turning in:

q the 9x12 envelope (with your name on it) that contains:

q all 20 (or so) prints,

q and a one-page typed analysis of the assignment. See below for details.

Do not turn in your negatives. And don't worry if every picture is not perfect.

 

Photography assignments are due in class Thursday, ??. No excuses; late assignments earn zero credit, so once again, begin early enough that you can ruin the first roll of film in the camera, allow the processor to lose the second, and still have time to shoot a third, get it processed, write the analysis and get it in on time.

1. A Day in the Life of .... Use your camera to document your day. From the time you get up (or maybe even before you get up) shoot one photograph of each thing you do (well, almost), everyone you talk with, every significant thing you see. You might need more than one roll of film.

 

 

Your emphasis should be on making a visual record, a documentary, of your day, not necessarily on making pretty pictures. When you turn in your photographs, make sure they are numbered on the back in chronological order and placed with the earliest on top. And put the approximate time on the back of each. Keep in mind these will be a great thing to show to your grandkids someday.

Analysis paper: First, indicate which assignment you have done (Day in the Life, Personality Portrait, etc.). Then describe the process you went through to make these photographs, and tell me what significance the images might have 40 years from now when you show them to your grandkids. What is the value of documenting such common events as a college student's day? What is are some uses for documentary photography?

2. The Personality Portrait. Choose a friend, a parent, a stranger, someone older than 16 (just one person) and carefully shoot 20 different poses of this person in a way that reveals something of her or his personality. Think carefully about where you want to photograph your subject; surroundings are important to our reading of your photographs. Work carefully to compose your images to take advantage of light, background, etc.

Enclose all 20 images but put your best three or so images on the top of the pile and mark them as such on the back.

Analysis paper: First, indicate which assignment you have done (Day in the Life, Personality Portrait, etc.). Then describe how your best images capture some part of your subject's personality. What factors made it difficult to capture the essence of a person on film? What elements did you try to include in your portraits and what did you try to exclude? How much control did you exert over your subject?

3. Homage to Other Arts. Find a work of visual art that you like--a painting, a lithograph, a sculpture, a drawing, a photograph--and use your camera to loosely replicate or to interpret that work. For example, you might choose a British or American landscape painting and try to replicate something of the design or the emotional feeling of the piece. Keep in mind that your photograph need not be a copy of the other piece of art, but instead an homage, a reflection, an interpretation.

Enclose all 20 images but put your best three or so on the top of the pile and mark them as such on the back.

Analysis paper: First, indicate which assignment you have done (Day in the Life, Personality Portrait, etc.). Then tell me how you chose this work of art to interpret and how you went about using camera and film to do it. What qualities do the photographs have that the original work of art does not, and vice versa? Based on this experience, what can you say about the relationships among various art media?

4. The Close Study. Choose something that has visual qualities you'd like to explore. It might be your car, a beauty parlor, Main Street in you home town, a farm field. Examine and photograph it carefully with the idea of revealing as many of its qualities as possible. Shoot it close up, from a distance, from above, early in the morning, at night in order to interpret it fully.

Enclose all 20 images but put your best three or so images on the top of the pile and mark them as such on the back.

Analysis paper: First, indicate which assignment you have done (Day in the Life, Personality Portrait, etc.). Then tell me what your photographs reveal about your subject. Tell me why you chose the prints you did as your favorites. How can the close study of something teach the photographer about seeing the world more fully? How does a group of photographs of something reveal more about that thing than any one photograph?

 

 

Group Presentation

For this assignment you will be put into groups of 3 or 4 in order to prepare, rehearse, and present to the class a 5 to 7 minute presentation about a photographer and her or his work. The photographer can be living or dead, revealed primarily through books and exhibit catalogs, or through the photographer's prints themselves. You might even bring the photographer to class!

I encourage you to look widely for interesting photographers. Ansel Adams is the only photographer most people know, and he's been done to death. The photographer you choose might be somebody well known like Dorthea Lange, or might be your Uncle Bob who is a committed amateur photographer who has photographed his garden for the last 30 years. I especially encourage you to look for minority photographers. There are many, and they are often overlooked.

The presentation must include:

q Significant examples of the photographer's work. They can be in books or any flat form; we can use the document camera to project them for the whole class.

q Careful analysis of the photographer's work according to one of the critical perspectives I will provide you in class. This is very important.

q A concise biography of the photographer.

Due dates for your presentation will be determined by the calendar and by your group number. You need not turn in any materials for the presentation.