Visual Anthropology: Documentary Photography

Description: (Formerly numbered 133P.) Lecture, three hours; discussion, one hour (when scheduled). Photographs in anthropology serve many purposes: as primary data, illustrations of words in books, documentation for disappearing cultures, evidence of fieldwork, material objects for museum exhibitions, and even works of art. Topics include relationships between subject and treatment of image, between art photography and ethnographic documentation, role of museum photograph and caption, social practice of taking pictures, and case study on photographing Middle East and North Africa. P/NP or letter grading.

Units: 4.0
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Overall Rating 3.0
Easiness 2.2/ 5
Clarity 3.1/ 5
Workload 2.5/ 5
Helpfulness 2.8/ 5
Most Helpful Review
Winter 2023 - I mean this so sincerely: run away. This class was so unnecessarily the difficult. The TA (bless his heart) was helpful, kind, and understanding, but the professor left much to be desired. First, she sets unclear and unrealistic expectations. The first assignment was to analyze a photograph, but we were not allowed to choose a picture somebody else had already chosen-- and we weren't allowed to coordinate amongst ourselves and ensure we were all working on different pictures. A duplicate image was docked 10 points for an assignment worth 15. To not allow any kind of coordination between the students before they put in the time and work on an assignment that they may ultimately have to redo is ridiculous. Second, her guidelines are unclear, even to the TA. Like I said, no hate to the TA, he was great, but her feedback and answers on certain things would directly contradict his. So either she was not communicating how she should, or he was just as confused as us. Third, communicating with her outside of class feels like an impossible task. She will ignore parts of your emails and will forget that you have already covered something with her in an earlier email-- even if it is within the same thread. She also assumes that you have not read any part of the syllabus, attended any class, or have reviewed any assignment before reaching out to her. That being said, fourth, she is incredibly condescending. She has repeatedly mentioned to us in our /mandated office visit/ that we are not anthropologists and our ideas for our projects (which often fall in direct line with her lecture material) are unfounded. She expects the worst in you, and definitely makes that clear in how she communicates with you. Last, her take-home test clocked out at a minimum of 4000 words and took the class at least 8+ hours to finish, there are way too many readings required for each class, and the final project is daunting. There is not a whole lot that you are graded on, but what you are graded on is exhaustingly difficult. If none of these things matter to you, or you've had worse, then the class itself can definitely be interesting. It feels more like a history of photography class than a visual anthropology class, but there is something very cool about the former and you will for sure learn some new stuff. And if you have a project idea that prof loves, you'll enjoy the final project. But, if you can't stand being talked down to, being told one thing by the TA and another by the prof, or her constant contradicting herself, then I would opt for literally any other anthro class that will be more in line with anthropological perspective on, literally, anything.
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