This one-day graduate student symposium at the Yale Center for British Art will address the ethics of making and viewing photographs and the changing conceptions of the ethical concerns inherent in those practices throughout the history of the medium. We invite interpretations of this theme as 30-minute papers from graduate students working on all aspects of the arts and humanities. Cross-disciplinary approaches and comparative studies are particularly welcome. Please submit abstracts of no more than 300 words by September 30, 2006 to: email@example.com
In 1977, Susan Sontag suggested that, "in teaching a new visual code, photographs alter and enlarge our notions of what is worth looking at and what we have a right to observe. They are a grammar and, even more importantly, an ethics of seeing"(On Photography). In the decades since Sontag's text, scholars and critics of photography have turned increasingly to questions of power, intention, and agency in examining the relation between subject and photographer, between photograph and viewer. This symposium investigates moral purpose in the history of the medium and its contemporary practice to evaluate the status of photography as an ethics of seeing.
Topics may include but are not restricted to:
The ethics of subjecthood (the person depicted in the photograph)
Medical and scientific photography
Debates over reality, truth, and the photograph
The role of photography in social reform
Issues and questions raised by technological developments
Narrative and performativity in portraiture and other practices
The negotiation of class relations and social positions
The gap between intention and use
The rise of ethical codes for professional photographers
Propaganda, nationalism, and politics
colonialism, empire, and post-colonial responses
The role of photography in humanitarian organizations and debates around photography itself as a humanitarian practice
The program will include discussion sessions with curators, archivists, and artists. The day will draw to its close with a keynote lecture by Richard Billingham, whose portraits of his family were collected for the publication Ray's A Laugh (1996). Recent work such as Black Country (2004) examines landscape and memory.
Travel funds for speakers are available upon application.
Support for this symposium has been generously provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Yale Center for British Art
PO Box 208280
New Haven, CT 06520-8280
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