HIST 5702X: Public History Special Topics – “Photography, Memory, Oral History” – cross-listed with ARTH 4602B and ARTH 5500W
Winter 2023 

Instructor: Professor Carol Payne

“For me the noise of Time is not sad: I love bells, clocks, watches — and I recall that at first photographic implements were related to techniques of cabinetmaking and the machinery of precision: cameras, in short, were clocks for seeing, and perhaps in me someone very old still hears in the photographic mechanism the living sound of the wood.”

–Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography

This seminar will address the role that photography plays in conceptualizations of memory. We will draw on the rich body of literature on photography and memory as well as theory drawn from Memory Studies and Photo Studies.  Along the way we will explore work by specific artists, historians, and theoreticians as case studies. These may include Ariella Azoulay, Roland Barthes, Christian Boltanski, Tina Campt, Marianne Hirsch, Annette Kuhn, Martha Langford, Pierre Nora, W.G. Sebald, and Barbie Zelizer.

As a practical component of the course and part of our exploration of photography and memory, we will also engage with photo-based oral history. This will include discussions of literature on the intersections of oral history and photo studies. But it will also include a hands-on project by members of the class, conducting their own photo-based oral history.

Class Format: Class will be held in person (unless health guidelines suggest otherwise). Students are expected to be active, guiding participants in discussion and to work respectfully and collaboratively with one another.

50% Research Project
20% Reader Responses
15% Photo-based oral history assignment
15% participation

Assignments: Graded assignments will include a photo-based oral history assignment, a research paper (divided into shorter assignments), short reader responses, and discussion (format to be determined).

Texts: Assigned reading will be mainly available through BrightSpace and will not require purchase.  (If I decide to order one or two books, I will let you know in advance.)