Seminar 2007–08

In 2007-08, the Toronto Photography seminar turned its attention to affect and photojournalism,  with the goal of developing a research relationship with Ryerson’s Black Star Archive (which they had recently acquired). Our seminar met throughout the year to discuss readings relating to the theme. We also hosted three guests, and submitted a successful International Opportunities Fund grant from SSHRC, the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, on the theme of “affect and photojournalism.” During this year we were also working on a guest issue of History of Photography entitled “Circulation,” and edited by seminar members Thy Phu and Matthew Brower.


Shawn Michelle Smith, Associate Professor, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Professor Smith teaches courses on the history and theory of photography and gender and race in visual culture. She is the author of American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (Princeton University Press, 1999), Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture (Duke University Press, 2004), co-author with Dora Apel of Lynching Photographs (University of California Press, 2007), and co-editor with Maurice Wallace of Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity (Duke University Press, forthcoming 2012).

Laura Wexler, Professor of American Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies, Yale University

Professor Wexler is the author of Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in an Age of U. S. Imperialism (University of North Carolina Press, 2000) and Pregnant Pictures (Routledge, 2000), co–authored with photographer Sandra Matthews. She also co–edited, with Laura Frost, Amy Hungerford and John MacKay, the volume Interpretation and the Holocaust, as a special issue of the Yale Journal of Criticism. Professor Wexler’s many other publications on photography and American visual culture include a recent essay entitled “’Laughing Ben’” on “The Old Plantation’,” in Photography and Race Forum, edited by Elizabeth Abel and Leigh Raiford, in English Language Notes 44.2 (Fall/Winter 2006); and a chapter entitled “The Fair Ensemble: Kate Chopin in St. Louis in 1904,” in Haunted by Empire; Geographies of Intimacy in North American History, edited by Ann Laura Stoler (Duke University Press, 2006). Her current research interests center upon photographic representations of the politics of white supremacy and resistance to it in the United States. She is working on a book entitled The Awakening of Cultural Memory: Heritage Fiction and Photographic Truth. She is also working on the photographers Diane Arbus and Roman Vishniac; on little known photographs from the F.S.A./O.W.I archives; and on the Randolph Linsly Simpson African–American Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale.

Clément Chéroux, Curator of Photography, Centre Pompidou, Paris

Chéroux is a curator at the Pompidou Centre / Musée National d’Art Moderne. A historian of photography with a doctorate in art history, graduated from the École Nationale de Photographie d’Arles, he is the editor of the journal Études Photographiques. He has published several books: L’Expérience photographique d’August Strindberg (Actes Sud, 1994); Fautographie: petite histoire de l’erreur photographique (Yellow Now, 2003); Henri Cartier-Bresson: le tir photographique (Gallimard, 2008); and Diplopie: l’image photographique à l’ère des médias globalisés: essai sur le 11 septembre 2001 (Le Point du Jour, 2009). He has also curated a number of exhibitions: Mémoire des camps: Photographies des camps de concentration et d’extermination nazis,1933-1999 (2001); Le Troisième oeil: La Photographie et l’occulte (2004); La Subversion des images: surréalisme, photographie, film (2009); Shoot! Existential photography (Rencontres d’Arles, 2010).


Public talk: September 27, 2007: Shawn Michelle Smith, “The Evidence of Lynching Photographs,” Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

Public talk: November 15, 2007: Laura Wexler, Depts. of American Studies, English, and Women’s Studies, Yale University, “Laughing Ben on the Old Plantation,” Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk Centre for International Studies, University of Toronto.

Toronto Photography Seminar Schedule

July 26, 2007, 4-7pm

Theorizing Affect and Visual Experience

Costello, Diarmuid. “Aura, Face, Photography: Re-reading Benjamin Today.” Walter Benjamin and Art. Ed. Andrew Benjamin. London: Continuum, 2005: 164-184.

Hansen, Mark B.N. New Philosophy for New Media. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2006. Introduction, “The Automation of Sight and Bodily Basis of Vision” and “Body Times.”

Aug. 23, 2007, 4-7pm: 

Context for the Black Star: Photojournalism in 1930s and 40s

Hardt, H. “Sites of reality: constructing press photography in Weimar Germany, 1928-33.” Communication Review, vol. 1, no. 3, (1996) 373-402. 

Brennen, B. “Strategic competition and the photographer’s work: photojournalism in Gannett newspapers, 1937-1947.” American Journalism, vol. 15, no. 2, (Spring 1998): 59-77.

Sept. 28, 2007, 4-7pm

Guest: Shawn Michelle Smith, discussion of her book American Archives: Gender, Race and Class in Visual Culture. New Haven: Princeton University Press, 1999, intro pgs. 3-10 and her pre-circulated seminar paper.

Oct. 26, 2007, 4-7pm

Photography Bearing Witness

Cookman, C. “Compelled to witness: the social realism of Henri Cartier-Bresson.” Journalism History, vol. 24, no. 1, (Spring 1998): 2-15.

Friday, Jonathan. “Demonic curiosity and the aesthetics of documentary photography.” British Journal of Aesthetics, Vol. 40 no 3 (July 2000): 356-375.

Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. New York: Picador, 2003.

Nov. 30, 2007, 4-7pm

Guest: Laura Wexler, discussion of pre-circulated paper, “Lose Your Mother? Find Another: Mother-loss in the Randolph Linsley Simpson African-American Collection at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.”

Readings: Wexler, Tender Violence: Domestic Visions in the Age of U.S. Imperialism (UNC Press, 2000): 1-93. These excerpts include the introduction, “What a Woman Can do with a Camera” (about Frances Benjamin Johnston’s photojournalism) and “Seeing Sentiment: Photography, Race, and the Innocent Eye.”

Dec. 14, 2007, 12-3pm

Combat Photojournalism

Perlmutter, D. D., “The anatomy of a photojournalistic icon: Marginalization of dissent in the selection and framing of ‘a death in Genoa.’” Visual Communication, vol. 3, no. 1, (Feb. 2004): 91-108.

Vettel-Becker, Patricia. “Combat Photography: Adventurers, Heroes and Martyrs” in Shooting From the Hip: Photography, Masculinity, and Postwar America. Minneapolis: Minnesota 2005, 31-60.

Jan. 25, 2008, 4-7pm

Photojournalism and Resistance

Brothers, C. “The anthropology of civilian life: French and British press photography of civilian life in the Spanish Civil War.” Journal of Newspaper and Periodical History, vol. 8, no. 2, (1992): 50-64.

Webb, S. “An American journalist in the role of partisan: Dickey Chapelles coverage of the Algerian War.” American Journalism, vol. 22, no. 2, (2005):111-134.

Zelizer, B. “Journalism’s “last” stand: wirephoto and the discourse of resistance,” Journal of Communication, vol. 45, no. 2, (Spring 1995): 78-92.

Feb. 29, 2008, 4-7pm

Photography and Cultural Memory: Technologies of Memory

Hirsch, Marianne. “Surviving Images: Holocaust Photographs and the Work of Postmemory.” Visual Culture and the Holocaust . Ed. Barbie Zelizer. London: The Althone Press, 2001: 215-246.

Keightley, E. and M. Pickering. “For the record: Popular music and photography as technologies of memory,” European Journal of Cultural Studies, vol. 9, no. 2 (2006): pp. 149-165.

March 28, 2008, 4-7pm

Guest: Clément Chéroux

April 24 and 25, 2008: Final retreat

Photography and Cultural Memory: Loss and Mourning

Buck-Morss, Susan. “Dream and Awakening,” from Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 2000: 174-211.

Cameron, Heather. “Memento Mori: Mourning, Monuments, and Memory.” Prefix Photo no 5 (May 2002): 49-57.

Prosser, Jay. Light in the Dark Room: Photography and Loss, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2003. Chapter on Gordon Parks

Photography and Cultural Memory: Americas

Castro, Fernando. “Crossover Dreams: Remarks on Contemporary Latin American Photography.” Image and Memory: Photography from Latin America 1866-1994. Eds. Wendy Watriss, Lois Parkinson Zamora. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998.

Taylor, Diana. “You are Here: H.I.J.O.S. and the DNA of Performance” and “Lost in the Field of Vision,” from The Archive and the Repertoire: Performing Cultural Memory in the Americas. Durham & London: Duke University Press, 2003.

Zelizer, Barbie. excerpts from Covering the Body: The Kennedy Assassination, the Media, and the Shaping of Collective Memory. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992.