The course will present a social history of photography in its broad sweep.
Among all the technological achievements in recorded history only a handful have reached across society to touch almost every aspect of human endeavor. This handful includes writing and number systems, the mass produced book, the dynamo, digital computers, and photography. Photography is not a single invention, but an evolution and merging of technical ideas that by 1839 made what we know as photography possible, and its effects were immediate and far-reaching in scope. It was revolutionary in every sense, altering our social and cultural landscapes in profound and lasting ways. Many of the little revolutions it set in motion have yet to achieve their final form, since they are continuing at a pace and are continuing to alter our lives, including how we record both our personal and collective memories, how we communicate with one another, how we express ourselves artistically, and most particularly how we see and understand the world of the infinitely small and infinitely large. This course will attempt to come to grips with some of the more important implications for our on-going human project.