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CCOG for ART 216 Fall 2023

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Course Number:
ART 216
Course Title:
Introduction to the History of Photography
Credit Hours:
Lecture Hours:
Lecture/Lab Hours:
Lab Hours:

Course Description

Traces the history of photography since its processes were first announced in 1839. Examines photographs as aesthetic objects, and as documents of history, scientific exploration and social change. Locates the medium and practice of photography within a broader social and artistic context. Explores photography within the fields of art, science and journalism viewing, analyzing and discussing ways in which the presence of the photograph has shaped our relationship to the world around us. Prerequisites: WR 115, RD 115 and MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes for the course

Upon completion of the course students should be able to:

  • Explain how photography is representative of the historical moment in which it was produced, acknowledging the interactions between social, cultural, technological, and/or economic factors and photography.
  • Utilize a critical vocabulary as a framework for discussing, creating and/or writing about photography
  • Analyze the relationship between form, context and meaning in visual communication. 
  • Articulate the relationships between photography, the history of visual culture and world  history to enhance civic and global engagement.
  • Apply insights gained from course content to visual culture encountered outside of the classroom.

Integrative Learning

Students completing an associate degree at Portland Community College will be able to reflect on one’s work or competencies to make connections between course content and lived experience.

General education philosophy statement

Through the study of art history, students look closely at works of art and architecture, articulating the way elements of art are interrelated and considering how values and interpretations have changed over time. They critically analyze visual communication, work creatively with art historical data, use evidence to support arguments and assess the stakes of primary and secondary sources. They also analyze the relationships between art and its historical, cultural, social and political contexts. Art history enhances students’ engagement in contemporary global culture through a deeper understanding of history, which helps students recognize connections between the past and present and become more aware of their own vantage points.

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment tools may include:

  • Comprehend, apply, analyze and evaluate reading assignments

  • Identify photographs and photographic processes, and relate facts and ideas about photographs and photographic techniques in exam format

  • Research, plan, compose, edit and revise short papers

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)


  • Analyze and work creatively with art historical data, using it to better understand the history of photography and visual culture.

  • Evaluate primary and secondary art historical sources, assessing their stakes and motives.

  • Assess the ways in which photography is impacted by the viewer’s vantage point.

  • Articulate the relationship between photography and its historical, social and political context.

  • Recognize and differentiate various approaches to photography and evaluate how values and interpretations change over time.

  • Recognize and identify parallels between the history of photography and current issues of visual culture.

  • Conduct a formal analysis of a photograph and articulate the way its elements are interrelated.

  • Research and write coherently about photographic history, using evidence to support arguments.

  • Use knowledge gained in the course to study fine art, multimedia, art history, design, journalism, or the social sciences at a four-year institution.


  • Invention of photography

  • Early photography

  • Moving pictures

  • Modernity’s impact on photography

  • Straight Photography

  • Pictorialism

  • Photo Secession

  • Abstraction

  • Photojournalism 

  • Photography and Modern Art Movements

  • Russian avant-garde

  • Dada

  • The Bauhaus

  • Surrealism

  • Advertising 

  • Group f/64

  • Documentary photography

  • Great Depression

  • Works Project Administration and Farm Security Administration

  • Workers’ Film and Photo League

  • Photo League

  • Cold War

  • Street photography

  • Conceptual art

  • Global influence on photography

  • The Pictures Generation

  • Modernism

  • Post Modernism

  • Post Photography

  • Critical interpretations of the role(s) of photography

  • Photography and issues of race and gender

  • Photography as truth and fiction

  • Photography and other media

  • Photography and technology

  • Visual Literacy and photography

  • Photographic techniques, processes and media

  • Formal elements of photographic composition

  • Photography and war

  • Photography and social reform

  • Photography and economics

  • Photography and the social fabric

  • Photography and science

  • Photography and colonialism

  • Orientalism

  • American West and Manifest Destiny

  • Photography and gender

  • Photography as document

  • Photography as aesthetic object

  • The Historical impact of photography

  • The influence of photography on art

  • The influence of photography on how one views one’s own culture and the cultures of others

  • How cultures have adopted/adapted photographic strategies

  • The various impulses behind photography

  • The role of the photographer in society