19th Century Photography:
Histories and Critical Reputation
Instructor: Peter Barberie
Photography's invention in 1839 was one of the defining moments of the industrial revolution. It also transformed the way art was made, written about, and sold. The medium is integral to art history, and has been since its invention. But photography's status as art itself is more recent-it was only fully established in the 1970s, with the art market's absorption of the medium. At that moment, nineteenth-century photographs made for a range of purposes were elevated to museum objects, often moving directly from the archive and library to the museum collection.
will examine the major debates on 19th-century photography, particularly
at three crucial moments in the medium's history: the 1850s, the 1930s,
and the 1970s-80s. Major photographers including Julia Margaret Cameron,
Charles Marville, and Eugène Atget, will be studied in depth.
Among the readings will be texts by Roland Barthes, Rosalind Krauss,
Molly Nesbit, and John Szarkowski. A central concern of the course
will be how the history of art can-and cannot-accommodate nineteenth-century
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