Here is the schedule for the course. The reading/watching/listening and notes are due on the date under which they appear, including the first class.

This schedule is subject to change, so don’t go too far ahead. Something may happen in the news that demands our attention as this is a subject that is going on daily before our eyes.

We will have a fairly brief (30-40 minutes) Google hangout each day as well to discuss the stuff we watch and read. These will be text only, so you can turn off the video and sound.

These will be a little clunky at first, until we get used to it. They will be conversational in tone. I’ll throw out some questions/topics from the readings/viewings for the day and we’ll bat them around.

Here is my account. Search for me and invite me, then I can add you. Also, please add an icon so it is easier for me to identify you.

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 12.07.51 PM

Here are the groups for the Google Hangouts and the meeting times. So you should be online ready to go by the time next to your group.:

Group 1 – 11:15
Group 2 – 12 p.m.
Group 3 – 12:45 p.m.
Group 4 – 1:30 p.m.



Jan. 2 (online)

Do photographs reflect reality or create it?

• Carol Anne Duffy poem –
• Errol Morris – It Was All Started By a Mouse I, It Was All Started with a Mouse II (These two articles on You may need to register an account and you will get, I think, 10 free articles a month).
• Errol Morris – The Nature of Art, Truth and Propaganda in Photography
• Don McCullin – Shaped by War

First reading response post (due by 9 a.m.):

This goes on the Google doc you created and shared with me (be sure you allow me to edit it). Your reading notes should be in descending chronological order, so the newest is always on top. And please put your name at the very top of the document and put all of your notes under that.

A key question to start is what is the purpose of photography? Do photographs reflect reality of create reality? Use examples or arguments from the readings and provide embedded photographs to illustrate your points.

Jan. 4 (online)

Photojournalism and its purpose

Robert Capa’s Falling Soldier.

• Hank Klibanoff, What the Photo Still Does Best, The New York Times
• Michael Griffin – “The Great War Photographs: Constructing Myths of History and Photojournalism” (PDF) The Great War Photographs
• Susan Sontag – Regarding the Pain of Others, Ch. 1-2

Sontag writes: “In an era of information overload, the photograph provides a quick way of apprehending something and a compact form for memorizing it. The photograph is like a quotation, or a maxim, or a proverb.”

In your reading response (due by 9 a.m. on the day of class), summarize the three readings and explain the quote above. What does she mean and, if true, what are the consequences of what she is saying?

Jan. 5 (online)

SI Exif

The “sponsorship” of images


• Control Room

• Peter Maas, The Toppling: How the Media Inflated a Minor Moment in a Long WarThe New Yorker

Reading response (due at 9 a.m.):

From the film Control Room that you watched, it seems clear that the U.S. staged the celebration around the fall of the Saddam Hussein statue in Firdos Square in April 2003, which became an iconic image of the war. Does this matter? Why? Is it justified?

Jan. 6 (online)



We need to further consider the idea of how images shape our understanding of war. One question this begs is should we just not see some images. Is censorship sometimes OK?.

Reading response: Sontag brings up the idea of the censorship or suppression of war images. Summarize her take and then craft a short argument of your own. Should war images be censored? Why? Be sure to incorporate ideas from the texts below.


• Sontag – Ch. 3-4

• David Dunlap,  To Publish or Not? New York Times Lens Blog

Jan. 7 (online)

Photo by James Nachtwey

The War Photographer: Opportunist/Activist/Observer?

Case studies:

James Nachtwey (look through some of Nachtwey’s photos and pull out a couple to use in your reading notes)

• James Nachtwey


• Sontag, 5, 7

Reading response (due by 9 a.m.):

Based on your assessment of the readings and the case study of Nachtwey; Do professional war/conflict photographers exploit tragedy or bear witness? Is what they do defensible? How? Be sure to incorporate ideas from the texts above.

Jan. 8 (in Merion Hall 174)

Essay one due by the beginning of class. The essay should be written on the publishing platform Medium (very easy to use) and should include images to illustrate your points. This is an extension of your reading response from yesterday (which you should write separately).

Here is a link to the assignment.

Embedding journalists

Journalists Sebastian Junger and Tim Heatherington.


Watch/discuss Restrepo

Jan. 11

Democratization of Images and “War Porn”

The fact that many people have near professional quality video and still cameras in their pockets has changed our cultural perception and evaluation of images. This is particularly true of war images, which can now be taken and easily distributed by combatants, civilians and governments.

Reading Notes: Based on the readings and the videos below, what impact could “war porn” have on armed conflict and out understanding of it?  Be sure to use a couple of examples and incorporate the readings into your analysis.


• PW Singer – Wired for War (both read and listen)

• George Zornick – The Porn of War

• Matthis Chiroux – Is Our Military Addicted to War Porn?


• A Predator drone attack:

• War Porn Compilation

Jan. 12 – Abu Ghraib and “greased images”


We have talked about the distribution of amateur images, most of which were meant to be seen by a wide audience. Today we’ll talk about the images from the Abu Ghraib prison, which were not meant to be seen by people outside of a small group of people. But they slipped out, almost as if they were greased, and changed the history of the war in Iraq.


In class: The Ghosts of Abu Ghraib

Flipping the reading notes: Instead of doing reading notes in preparation for class, you will doing reading notes after class. This provides a chance to reflect on what we watched and discussed. Reading notes are due by 9 a.m. tomorrow.

Jan. 13 – Navigating “journalism” and “art”

Essay #2 due at class time.


Watch in class: Zero Dark Thirty




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