Write about any aspect of 19th or early 20th century photography, whether or not we have dealt with it explicitly in the course. However, if you are having trouble coming up with an idea, the following guidelines may be useful:
• This course is organized into weekly themes, which combine specific historical movements and events with questions or problems about the nature of photography in 19th century art and visual culture. You may wish to begin by focusing on a particular week and its texts. Think about what problems these texts pose and how you might address those problems.
• After you have a general idea of what issues you want to address, you will need to focus in on a particular topic. Your topic may be the work of a particular photographer, a certain period in a photographer’s career, an artistic movement, or a cultural phenomenon. Do not feel you must limit yourself to the work of a single artist. However, do pick a topic that is reasonable in scope. If you have questions about the scope of your topic, please come talk to me about it before the proposal pitch session.
• Remember that your paper must demonstrate original research so before you settle on a topic you will want to do some preliminary research to make sure that there has been something written on the topic it already.
• Don’t forget to look at images! This assignment is designed to build on your work with visual analysis, and photographs should be an integral part of your paper. Be sure to spend time looking at images as you research your paper so that you can incorporate visual evidence effectively into the final product.
• As always, your paper must construct a thesis. This means that while research is important and you must demonstrate an expanded understanding of your topic beyond what we have discussed in class, you must also make and defend an argument.
• Finally, remember also that writing a research paper is a long and involved process and it will be much more pleasant if you choose a topic that engages and excites you. If you have any doubts about your topic, or are having trouble coming up with a topic, come talk to me.
• Start early! You cannot write a research paper in a week. You need time to track down sources, read and digest the material, and formulate your thoughts.
• While you are free to use any of the readings assigned for this class, these readings do not count as research. Papers must use an absolute minimum of 3 substantive outside sources.
• Ideal sources will be either books with a significant textual component (not a 5 page
• curator’s introduction in an exhibition catalogue) or essays from an academic journal or anthology. Sources must be cited properly. The citation format may be MLA or Chicago but must be consistent throughout the paper.
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