Course: Introduction to Photographic Histories (online)

07:00pm, Tue 01 Nov 2022 - 08:30pm, Tue 06 Dec 2022

Experience the plural histories of photography in this five-week course

Cropped black and white photo of a female presenting dancer midair with a shadow in the background

Course: Introduction to Photographic Histories (online)


Experience the plural histories of photography in this five-week course

This event is part of our Past Programme

Tuesdays, 1 November to 6 December at 19.00–20.30 GMT on Zoom (no session on 8 November) 

Photography has become an essential part of how we communicate and understand the world around us. This introductory course will look at movements and ideas that have shaped the development of photographic practice, through engaging with artworks, critical texts and photographs as visual culture.

Sessions will discuss photography and photobooks that explore themes including identity, power, history, as well as artistic movements of 19th and 20th century. Sessions will range across time periods and topics to show how they relate to contemporary issues. 

Course format

Taking place weekly on Zoom, sessions include a blend of lectures, group discussions and presentations. Participants are provided with lecture slides and a list of resources for further study.

Who is this for? 

Open to all who are interested in the many histories of photography and art. No prior knowledge necessary. 

This course is led by Dr Briony Carlin


Session 1 | The first 100 years: the new phenomenon of photography on Tue 1 Nov

Beginning just before the invention of photography, this session explores visual culture in the early 19th Century to consider how making images with cameras transformed the way the world was imagined.

Session 2 | Sharpness and strangeness: legacies of Surrealism on Tue 15 Nov

This session explores how photography can intensify or disrupt our view of modern life, tracing back to the Surrealist movement of the 20th century.

Session 3 | Evidence, document, Other on Tue 22 Nov

This session reflects on photography’s impulse to collect and to evidence as a framework for documentary photography and storytelling, while inviting critique on the ethics of documenting the experiences of others.

Session 4 | Picturing intersectionality on Tue 29 Nov

For many people, photography offers an alternative space for self-expression. This session will consider how people have used photography to explore their individuality and to resist society’s dominant narratives.

Session 5 | Photobooks and photo-objects on Tue 6 Dec

This session contemplates the ways we consume photographs in contemporary visual culture, with a focus on the ‘material turn’ among artists that work with photobooks, embroidery, sculpture, and other ways of making photography tangible and tactile.


Dr Briony Carlin is a researcher and curator who specialises in photography and materiality. Her work explores the intersections of image, experience, technology and feminist theory through photobooks and other cultural objects. She is an Associate Lecturer at Newcastle University, where she teaches critical study of media and museum practices, and an Academic Tutor in Art History at the University of Sunderland. Briony received her PhD from Newcastle University for her thesis ‘Bindings, Boundaries and Cuts: Relating Agency and Ontology in Photobook Encounters’. Briony previously worked as Assistant Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.


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