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Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - bologna.lab - Neue Lehre. Neues Lernen

Lens on Berlin: Making Visual Culture in the City

Taught by Christopher Shore

Thursday, 16:00 - 18:00, Hausvogteiplatz 5-7, Room 0323-26



Course Description

What does it mean to see rather than to look, to think critically while imagining your eyes as cameras? How do we make sense of the daily cavalcade of visual imagery we experience and how can we begin to distinguish a work of art from a can of soup? This course introduces students to the wealth of photographic practices in Germany beginning with the turn of the last century and carrying forward to the present. Photography has played a key role in shaping the cultural and visual history of Germany, and Berlin was well known to many of its most important practitioners. Drawing on fundamental theories of visual culture studies and cultural criticism, the class will also employ plastic approaches to study, combining field work with hands-on experiments and web-based technologies to expand student’s abilities to see rather than just look, to shape opinions critically, and to develop confidence as speakers while engaging in interesting subject matter.



  • Barrett, Terry. Criticizing Photographs: An Introduction to Understanding Images. McGraw-Hill, 2005.
  • Barthes, Roland. Camera Lucida. Jonathan Cape, 1981.
  • Berger, John. Ways of Seeing. BBC TV series, 1972. YouTube.
  • Bourdieu, Pierre. Photography: A Middle-Brow Art. Stanford UP, 1990.
  • Bunnell, Peter. Inside the Photograph: Writings on Twentieth-Century Photography. Aperture, 2009.
  • Gaensheimer, Susanne, and Mario Kramer, eds. The Lucid Evidence. Verlag für Moderne Kunst Nürnberg, 2011.
  • Gefter, Philip. Photography after Frank. Aperture, 2009.
  • Goodrum, Sarah. “A Socialist Family of Man: Rita Maahs’s and Karl-Eduard von Schnitzler’s Vom Glück des Menschen.” Zeithistorische Forschungen / Studies in Contemporary History 12.2 (2015): 370-82.
  • Hall, Stuart. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. Sage, 2010.
  • Hauswald, Harald, and Lutz Rathenow. Ost-Berlin: Leben vor dem Mauerfall / Life before the Wall Fell. Jaron Verlag, 2005.
  • James, Sarah E. Common Ground: German Photographic Cultures Across the Iron Curtain. Yale UP, 2013.
  • Klein, Alex, ed. Words Without Pictures. Aperture-LACMA, 2009.
  • Leikam, Susanne. “Picturing High Water: The 2013 Floods in Southeastern Germany and Colorado.” Extreme Weather and Global Media. Ed. Julia Leyda and Diane Negra. Routledge: 2015.
  • Ritchin, Fred. Bending the Frame: Photojournalism, Documentary, and the Citizen. Aperture, 2013.
  • Robert, François and Jean. Face to Face. Lars Müller, 1996.
  • Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies: An Introduction to the Interpretation of Visual Materials. 2nd ed. Sage, 2007.
  • Shore, Stephen. The Nature of Photographs. Phaidon, 2007.
  • Sontag, Susan. Regarding the Pain of Others. Picador, 2003.
  • Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture. Oxford UP, 2009.
  • Zervigón, Andrés Mario. John Heartfield and the Agitated Image: Photography, Persuasion, and the Rise of the Avant-Garde Photomontage. U of Chicago P, 2012.