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ARTS 309 Photography: History of a Visual Artform

This course presents a historical survey of photography within the context of scientific, cultural and artistic forces. From the camera obscura and daguerreotypes to Surrealism and Social Realism, this course addresses the broad and expressive nature of photographic imagery. In addition to exploring the technical history of the medium, the class is designed to promote formal articulation, genre identification and evaluation of meaning within diverse cultural contexts. Students will leave this course with a stronger sense of the ways in which photography has contributed to the global artistic landscape and our conception of reality. Activities include slide lectures, videos, visiting artist presentations and field trips to local collections and studios. No lab component.
4 Undergraduate credits

Effective January 11, 2010 to present

Meets graduation requirements for

Learning outcomes


  • Can articulate and use formal language of photography.
  • Can articulate thought into developing critical awareness of photography through both written and spoken means.
  • Can develop analysis of photography subjectively, formally and through interpretation of content.
  • Can distinguish between different genres within photography and understands the expressive potential of the camera as an artistic medium.
  • Can draw connections between local exhibitions viewed and historical and contemporary practices in art, as well as a larger art community/culture.
  • Develops awareness and appreciation of photography through visiting local art museums, galleries and/or visiting artists.
  • Understands historical timeline and movements of photography in association with scientific, cultural and artistic communities.

Minnesota Transfer Curriculum

Goal 6: The Humanities and Fine Arts

  • Demonstrate awareness of the scope and variety of works in the arts and humanities.
  • Understand those works as expressions of individual and human values within a historical and social context.
  • Respond critically to works in the arts and humanities.
  • Engage in the creative process or interpretive performance.
  • Articulate an informed personal reaction to works in the arts and humanities.