Gwybodaeth Modiwlau

Module Identifier
Module Title
Photography Begins: European Genius and the Birth of a New Aesthetic
Academic Year
Semester 2
Mutually Exclusive
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 11 x 2 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay 2,500 words  Essay (with list ‘Works Cited’ comprising 10 secondary sources related to/relevant for the critical essay)  50%
Semester Exam 2 Hours   Exam  50%
Supplementary Assessment Resit essy  Essay (with list ‘Works Cited’ comprising 10 secondary sources related to/relevant for the critical essay)  50%
Supplementary Exam 2 Hours   Resit exam  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1) identify major movements in 19th and early 20th century photography;

2) demonstrate an understanding major processes in 19th and early 20th century photography;

3) demonstrate an understanding of the major trends in 19th and early 20th century photography;

4) identify and discuss the work of key photographers in 19th and early 20th century photography;

5) articulate an awareness of the visual revolution which photography heralded for societies world-wide.

Brief description

Beginning with the invention of photography by a small cluster of brilliant and often radical thinkers, this module explores the photograph as a carrier of ideas – from praxis to epistemology and ontology – throughout the medium’s first century. Case studies are used to explore subjects such as the portrait, travel, science, war, and propaganda, as well as the relationship of photography to historical narratives and events. The emergence of photography as a fine art medium in its own right is also considered. In addition, students will have the opportunity to examine rare and original photographic prints from the collections of the National Library of Wales and the School of Art Museum.


1. Introduction to the course, readings, assessments, trips, Blackboard, the syllabus, etc.
‘Opticks’ and the origins of photography: Philosophical Inquiries and Concepts centred on Light and Light Capture.
2. The 'Official' Invention (1839): Niepce, Daguerre and Talbot.
3. Exploring early photographs at the National Library of Wales.
4. A New Language: War, Travel and the Portrait.
5. A New Art: romance, polemics and recantations.
6. New Momentum, New Directions.
European and American currents in Modernist photography before 1945
7. Photo-Modernism: American Realism/European Experimental.
8. Politics and the Camera: Social(ist) Commentaries (1840s-1950s).
9. Documents and Narratives: Politics and Ideology as Photographic Form.
10. Margaret Bourke-White: War, Fortune and Steel.
11. Bill Brandt and Robert Frank: Documentary to Art.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number
Communication Written communication skills.
Improving own Learning and Performance Written, critical, IS and research skills further developed.
Information Technology Research and writing in an academic context.
Personal Development and Career planning Professional presentation of research and annotated bibliography using MLA style documentation.
Problem solving Contextualizing historical precedent in the history of photography (e.g. visual, cultural, media, conceptual effects of the medium)
Research skills Researching through the use of library resources (National Library, Hugh Owen) as well electronic resources (e.g. the internet), object studies (School of Art collections, NLW collections of photographs)
Subject Specific Skills Introduced to the specifics of photographic influences on political, social and cultural functions.
Team work Seminar discussion groups and debate.


This module is at CQFW Level 5