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October 26, 2006

Midterm Exam Study Guide

Below is the midterm study guide. It will be an in-class essay exam. Specifically, you will write two essays. For the first essay, two of the three questions in the study guide will appear on the exam and you will choose one to write for the exam. The second question is exactly what will be on the exam. This will be a closed book exam (i.e. no notes, books, or other materials allowed).

Please email me if you have trouble opening the file.

Midterm Study Guide

October 24, 2006

Group Projects (Follow Up)

Once again, I was really impressed and excited by the presentations to class last night. It looks like every group took interesting photographs and found evocative images in the database to compare and contrast to them.

In addition to opening up a forum for any additional comments, I left class with my head full of questions after looking at all the images. Mostly, I'm wondering what larger arguments we can make after comparing student life now to that in the 1930s and 1940s. How do we explain the seeming move from formal dress to increasing informality? How do we interpret the seeming increased role of technology in everyday life on campus (and the uneasiness about it)? Do we have evidence, as several of you suggested, of a move from community to individualism? Several people mentioned the overwhelming preponderance of "choice" in contemporary photos, and I'm wondering if we might make a larger argument about how "choice" and its analog, "freedom" (thanks for the idea, Hussein), are essential to making sense out of our contemporary world. How do people feel about all this choice and freedom?

October 17, 2006

More Photography

I particularly enjoyed our class session last night. I think all the groups did a great job in finding, analyzing, and sharing an image from the FSA/OWI digital archive. Next week's presentations should be really interesting.

I left last night's class with a number of questions that we can hopefully continue thinking about here. Looking at the images from presentations, does Roeder's claim that WWII imagery led to viewing the war in simple dichotomies still hold up? After all, these were images that had their roots in the 1930s imagery we saw in class? I also wonder if anyone had more thoughts about how we could draw connections between the 10 images presented in class? We discussed some, such as the primacy of work, questions about segregation/integration and who counts as American. For example, what other ideas did people have in looking at the image from a Montana bar with a sign prohibiting Indians from buying beer? Was the photo supportive, ironic, hostile... In short, I think there were some great ideas mentioned in class and I'm hoping there will be more added here.

October 10, 2006

Media, Empire, Photography (Following Up)

Once again, I want to open a thread so that anyone with thoughts about last night's lecture, history lab, or reading has a forum to share their thoughts. I found this chapter from Wexler's book to be really thought-provoking, as it asks us to think about the connections between the domestic imagery common at the turn of the century and the simultaneous emergence of an American overseas empire. Did anyone else enjoy the reading? Did anyone find it difficult? Did anyone disagree with Wexler?

And Wexler's argument opens up this larger question about how we can "read" photographs for clues about how people imagined their world in the past. Our lab focused on war photos, but I'd like to suggest that this exercise could be repeated for almost any photograph. Are there other photographic styles or themes you can think of that might reveal clues about the past? Is it too much to describe photographs as "created" given that they do, in fact, simply record light on silver particles (or pixels, today)? How else might we think about photographs historically?

October 9, 2006

Group Project

Below is a link to the group project assignment. We'll discuss this in more detail tonight in the last hour of class.

Group Project Assignment

October 3, 2006

Race and Entertainment (follow-up)

We didn't get the chance to discuss the lecture, readings, or movie last night, so I wanted to post this thread and give everyone a chance to speak their mind. At the core of last night's work was the connection between race in U.S. history and forms of popular entertainment, such as blackface minstrelsy and wild west shows, that have turned racial tensions and stereotypes into entertainment. On the one hand, last night's movie painted a fairly bleak picture of how stereotypes of African-Americans have been created and perpetuated through media representations. Other scholars have suggested that the story is more complicated, arguing that the interracial hybridity underlying much popular entertainment means it is open to multiple interpretations, including those that work against rigid stereotypes. What do you think? How do representations of race and racial difference operate in popular entertainment today? Are certain forms of representations more pernicious than others and, if so, which ones?