ARH 390 Race, Photography, and America

The events surrounding the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 have been photographed as much as any event in our history. Photojournalists captured some of these images, but many were taken by local residents and posted on social media. These photos have not only offered a documentary record, but have served to illustrate the power of images to inform public opinion and to generate support and solidarity for a cause, often among those far from the location and circumstances of the original event. Photography has always had the potential to alter cultural patterns; specifically, photography was integral to the fight against racism and segregation, beginning with portraits of Sojourner Truth in the 1860s through photographs from the Civil Rights movement. This class will study the history of social photography and race through these images, and examine the medium as a visual language and an agent of communication. The course will involve a community-based learning component: we hope to facilitate several community conversations about photography and race.