Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Effective Term: Fall 2020
Units: 4
Hours: 3 lecture, 3 laboratory per week (72 total per quarter)
Advisory: Not open to students with credit in PHOT 8.
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area VI: United States Cultures & Communities, Area I: Humanities
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • A successful student will identify the photographic process, describe the visual elements, and interpret the meaning of a photograph.
  • A successful student will synthesize the course material on photography's role in shaping ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity in America.


Examination of photography's role in shaping ideas about race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity in America. Critical analysis of images from a wide range of genres, including commercial photography, portraiture, social documentary, photojournalism, ethnographic and scientific photography, erotica, and fine-art photography, discussed within their historical and social context. The honors course offers an enriched and challenging experience for the more talented student, including deeper content, more rigorous grading, and more demanding and creative assignments requiring application of higher-level thinking, writing, and communication skills.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. Describe the historical experience and photographic representation of minority groups in America.
B. Critically analyze the factors in photography that have helped shape our perceptions, assumptions, beliefs and knowledge about different racial, cultural and ethnic groups and how these factors have either affected or reflected the treatment of these groups by society.
C. Identify the major photographers and genres through their photographs and philosophies.
D. Write about the important qualities of a photograph and compare and contrast one photograph to another.
E. Describe how photographers from different cultural backgrounds contribute to the richness and diversity of American photography.

Course Content

A. Looking at and writing about photographs
1. Describing photographs (visual elements, subject matter, form, medium, style)
2. Methods of interpreting photographs in photography criticism
B. Issues of representation
1. Regime of representation
a. Evolution and implications of "whiteness" as the norm in America (rich, white, male, heterosexual, U.S. citizen)
b. Role of the "other" (class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, legal status, religion)
2. Defining photography as a powerful medium of representation
3. The role of the camera in colonization
a. Historical and social context of colonization
b. Photographic inventions and territorial expansion
4. Anthropology, ethnology and photography
a. Depicting a world of progress through visualizing differences
b. Representations of the "native" and the making of European identities
5. Power relationships of representation (photographer, subject and viewer)
6. Photographs and the construction of an archetype or stereotype
7. Catalysts for the deconstruction of an archetype or stereotype
a. Cultural minorities reframing the view of America
b. Great Depression and the creation of federal agencies that used photography for documentation
c. Development of mass-market magazines, such as Life, that incorporated photography for their substance
d. Introduction of hand-held 35mm cameras
e. Social and artistic movements
f. Introduction of new and alternative representations (e.g., "New Negro" image)
8. Effects of representation
a. Self-image
b. Outsider perception
c. Treatment in life
1) Poverty
2) Harassment
3) Discrimination (housing, jobs, educational opportunities, etc.)
d. Assimilation and isolation
C. Interplay of class, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, legal status in American history
1. Historical and social context of Native American experience
2. Historical and social context of African American experience
3. Historical and social context of Chicano/Latino American experience
4. Historical and social context of European immigrant experience
5. Historical and social context of Asian American experience
D. Photography in contemporary American society
1. Widespread preoccupation with issues of cross-cultural adjustment, displacement, and loss within contemporary photography
2. Effects of the media and the influence of the photography industry on visual culture and society

Lab Content

Lab hours consist of one or more of the following options:
A. Students will take quizzes on lecture and course reader/textbook information dealing with photographic representations of race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity in America.
B. Students will view and then analyze photographic representations of race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity in America.
C. Students will watch and then analyze selected films that deal with race, class, gender, sexuality and national identity in America.
D. Students participate in online discussions based on questions posed in weekly lessons. This participation consists of students posting answers to written questions provided by the instructor and/or posting responses to other student comments in an online discussion forum.
E. Students will attend exhibitions (both independently and as a class). Students will then write descriptive/analytical/experiential summaries based on their exhibit attendance.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

A. When taught on campus: lecture room equipped for slide projection, computer projection, and video/DVD presentation.
B. When taught via Foothill Global Access: on-going access to computer with email software and capabilities; email address; JavaScript-enabled internet browsing software.

Method(s) of Evaluation

A. Discussion topic comments designed to show student mastery of lessons and text.
B. Quizzes on each of the topic areas (e.g., analyzing photographs, anthropology and colonialism, exhibiting the savage, the camera and the immigrant, looking like the enemy, the consumption of lynching images, etc.).
C. Photographic image analyses designed to show student mastery of lessons and text.
D. 1000-word essays or photographic projects for each of the three parts of the course.
E. The honors course requires additional in-class portfolio, consisting of lecture notes, individual responses to discussion prompts, and personal reflections; expository essays, requiring research, integration, and synthesis; and choice of creative project reflective of course content, such as creation of photographs, webpage design, or class presentation.

Method(s) of Instruction

Lecture, discussion, laboratory.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Herman, Ronald E. Multicultural Photography. Kendall Hunt, 2019. ISBN 9781524971670.


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. Reading assignments: Reading of one or more textbook essays for each of the lecture topics, plus online lecture.

B. Writing assignments: Three 1000-word essays responding to a prompt.

C. Other assignments: Students conduct in-depth research on a course related topic and present to the class.