Course description

This course examines how photographs of contemporary conflict have had an impact on the history of photography and the role of the photographic documentarian in society. Contemporary war photographs circulate in various forms—from social media outlets to photobooks to museum walls. The so-called "Forever Wars" of our present era have taken place alongside a burgeoning field of photographic image production, and writing and theorizing about photography as an art form, instrumental tool, and cultural and political force. Through these works and texts, we explore how contemporary war photographs challenge notions of photographic truth, have an impact on the role of photography in the museum, drive political discourse and transform the meanings of contemporary conflicts, disrupt ideas about art and warfare, and raise new ethical dilemmas around issues of privacy and public policy.


  • Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, Harvard Art Museums and Lecturer on History of Art and Architecture, Harvard University
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