ARTH212: History of Photography


This course aims to survey the history of photography as it develops within a number of specific thematics, from the advent of the medium in the late eighteenth century through to the present. Accordingly, it will look at photography as a cultural phenomenon as much as an art form.

The appeal of photography as an object of study is precisely that there is no aspect of modern life—from birth to death, from sex to war, from atoms to planets, from commerce to art—that is not entirely infiltrated and mediated by practices of photography of one kind or another. This is also the problem of photographic
history as a discipline: how do you develop a coherent and effective method of analysis for an entity that is so ubiquitous and various? How can you speak with equal intelligence about the photograph as a thing, and about what any particular photograph is of? How can you identify the meaning of such a photograph when that meaning is largely determined by its context, a context that is always shifting and is therefore itself hard to define?

This course aims to examine these questions through a close study of the history of photography. The course is a selective investigation, not a comprehensive or strictly chronological survey. Taken as a whole, the class will look at photography as a cultural phenomenon as much as an art form, critically studying the various discursive arenas which this medium has helped to foster and redefine over the past two centuries. To this end, you will be actively engaged in looking closely at photographs and reading debates related to them.

Geoffrey Batchen

Tuesday 9 July to Thursday 15 August and Tuesday 3 September to Thursday 10 October 2019

Tuesday and Thursday 12:00 - 12:50 PM

LT101, Lecture Theatre 101, Level 1, Murphy Building, VUW - Kelburn campus

Required text:
There is no set text for ARTH 212. Tutorial readings are available on Blackboard.

About ACCESS Victoria:
This is an opportunity to attend lectures in a mainstream Victoria University course without having to undertake any assignments or assessment.

ACCESS Victoria allows you to attend only the lectures for the course you’re enrolled in. You don't attend tutorials, do assessments or undertake any mandatory course requirements for the course.

Places are always subject to availability and mainstream students take priority. If the course does fill up and ACCESS Victoria places are no longer available we will contact you before the start of the course. 

You will have access to a Blackboard account (the University’s online learning tool) so you can view the lecture images, image lists or other material posted on the course page. Any Blackboard messages regarding tutorials, assignments, tests or exams are not applicable to Continuing Education students.

You will be sent a username and password by Continuing Education to allow you to access Blackboard. Please contact us at Continuing Education if you are experiencing problems with Blackboard.

You may use the University Library resources (hard-copy and electronic) in the library during opening hours, but you won't be able to withdraw books or journals and you cannot download ebooks or online articles from the library's electronic database.

Some courses have set texts which can be bought from Vic Books on the Kelburn Campus. Course notes can also be bought from Vic Books.

View information about the full credit course on the main Victoria University website

Relevant links:
Vic Books

For further information:
Continuing Education, Victoria University of Wellington, PO Box 600, Wellington 6140.
Phone 04 463 6556,  Email: