CJS 451 - Topics in Japanese Studies
Section: 001 Seeing History: Photography as Evidence and Interpretation
Term: FA 2009
Subject: Japanese Studies (CJS)
Department: LSA II: Japanese Studies
Waitlist Capacity:
Waitlist Notes:
CJS Student Services Coordinator, umcjs@umich.edu, 764-6307
Class Misc Info:
Taught in English; no knowledge of Japanese or photographic history is required.
Advisory Prerequisites:
Junior/Senior or Graduate students.
May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credit(s).
Rackham Information:
Rackham credit requires additional work.
Primary Instructor:
Thomas,Julia Adeney

History, proverbially, is about story telling. Historians have concerned themselves primarily with language, narrative, evidence, and argument. In other words, historical practice is rooted in words not images, sound not sight. The advent of photography in the middle of the nineteenth century should have changed all that, at least according to some theorists, providing new sources of evidence, new means of interpretation, and most importantly a new relationship between past and present. However, the general consensus is that historians have failed to avail themselves of this new resource. As Peter Burke describes our modus operandi, "Relatively few historians work in photographic archives.... When they do use images, historians tend to treat them as mere illustrations, reproducing them in their books without comment. In cases in which the images are discussed in the text, this evidence is often used to illustrate conclusions that the author has already reached by other means, rather than to give new answers or to ask new questions."

This course explores why historians have been reluctant to embrace photography and how technical images change our relationship with the past. By engaging various theoretical works, witnessing these theories in action in the analysis of Japanese photography, and finally research of their own, the class will explore the nature of historical evidence and whether still images tell stories. During the first weeks of the class, we'll read debates over the nature of photography and history; during the following weeks, we'll contemplate how photography might change our ideas of Japanese wartime and postwar history; finally, students will be asked to make presentations on some aspect of the intersection between photography and history.

This course is suitable for anyone with a passion for understanding history, most especially upper level undergraduates and graduate students. It is taught in English; no knowledge of Japanese or photographic history is required. Written assignments will consist of a few short reader response essays and a final research paper of 15-20 pages.

CJS 451 - Topics in Japanese Studies
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
W 4:00PM - 7:00PM
002 (SEM)
Tu 3:00PM - 5:00PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 1861890761
Towards a philosophy of photography, Author: Vilem Flusser., Publisher: Reaktion 2000
ISBN: 1412921910
Visual methodologies : an introduction to the interpretation of visual materials, Author: Gillian Rose., Publisher: SAGE Publications 2nd ed. 2007
ISBN: 0520224868
The mind's past, Author: Michael S. Gazzaniga., Publisher: University of California Press 2000
ISBN: 0804726892
Photography : a middle-brow art, Author: Pierre Bourdieu ... Transl. by Shaun Whiteside, Publisher: Stanford Univ Press [Nachdr.] 1996
ISBN: 0226709507
Beautiful suffering : photography and the traffic in pain, Author: Mark Reinhardt, Holly Edwards, Erina Duganne., Publisher: University of Chicago etc 2006
ISBN: 0374521344
Camera lucida : reflections on photography, Author: Roland Barthes. Translated by Richard Howard., Publisher: Hill and Wang [u.a.] 12. pr. 1990
ISBN: 1859734979
Raw histories : photographs, anthropology and museums, Author: Elizabeth Edwards., Publisher: Berg Paperback 2006
ISBN: 0816624054
The burden of representation : essays on photographies and histories, Author: John Tagg., Publisher: Univ. of Minnesota Press 2. print. 1995
ISBN: 0805202412
Illuminations, Author: Walter Benjamin ; edited and with an introduction by Hannah Arendt ; translated by Harry Zohn., Publisher: Schocken Books Shocken pa 1986
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