Academic year
2019/2020 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
EM3F25 (AF:318887 AR:166778)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Master's Degree Programme (DM270)
Educational sector code
4th Term
Course year
Go to Moodle page
The course is part of the historical-artistic teachings that characterize the Master’s Degree in Economics and Management of Arts and Cultural Activities (EGArt). It therefore intends to provide students with the knowledge and comprehension of the main lines of (historical, theoretical, aesthetic, social, technical) development of photography in a constant comparison with the contemporary visual arts and image theories. Particular attention will be paid to archives or collections of images that during the 20th and 21st century have been organized in the form of albums and atlases as devices of visual knowledge, between history, aesthetics and politics.

Excellent knowledge and understanding of the contemporary status and theory of images, as well as of the crucial relationship between photography and other visual arts and idioms. Students are expected to acquire adequate theoretical skills through a methodology, which, even in view of their future professional needs, begins with a careful interpretation of texts and images. This will help them to understand the subject of study and to build their own thought and critical judgment. Interaction and active participation during classes will be encouraged as much as possible to increase students’ cognitive abilities and both help them exercise expressive-communicative skills and develop specific terminological competence in a constant exchange with the professor and fellow students.

Good knowledge of the history of contemporary art, as well as of the major historical events and main movements of thought between the 19th and the 21st century.
The course will examine the relationship between photography and other visual languages, new media and contemporary society; the connection between the photographic documentary desire and artistic experimentation; the changes occurred in the production, circulation and reception of photography after the digital turn; the methods and meanings of collecting, archiving and displaying photographs. More specifically, it will examine two particular devices (or 'dispositifs') for collecting, editing and displaying images: the album and the atlas. When photography started to be used in the printing process, at the end of the 19th century atlases and albums aimed at the systematization and visualization of knowledge have progressively multiplied, extending to different fields of knowledge (in addition to geography and astronomy, also anatomy, physiognomy, mineralogy, botany, archeology, ethnography ...). Starting in the 1920s and 1930s, the effectiveness of the montage of images as a dialectical cultural device capable of “showing” and reactivating the artistic-cultural memory, together with the historical-political one, began to make its way among thinkers and artists to further consolidate between the 20th and 21st century, also in the evolution from analogue to digital photography. But as Georges Didi-Huberman argues, the atlas and the album are two distinct visual forms, of which Aby Warburg’s “Atlas Mnemosyne” and André Malraux’s “Musée imaginaire” (imaginary museum or ‘museum without walls’) represent the first terms of comparison. Starting from these two examples, the course focuses on the fortune and the aesthetic, epistemological, technical and political implications that the atlas and the album have in contemporary photographic production and artistic practice.
1. To acquire the necessary theoretical knowledge:

• Cristina Baldacci, “Archivi impossibili. Un’ossessione dell’arte contemporanea”, Johan and Levi, Monza 2016 [especially: ‘Introduction’, pp. 7-13; chapter 1, pp. 17-39; chapter 3, pp. 97-133].
• Claudio Marra, “Fotografia e arti visive”, Carocci, Rome 2014.
• Andrea Pinotti and Antonio Somaini, “Cultura visuale. Immagini, sguardi, media, dispositivi”, Einaudi, Turin 2016 [especially: chapter 2, pp. 66-106; chapter 4, pp. 137-192].

2. To expand on the subjects covered during classes:

• Cristina Baldacci, ‘Tracciare la vita: il diario come forma d’arte/Tracing Life: The Diary as an Art Form’, in “Diari tra diari/Diaries among Diaries”, ed. by M. Morganti, E. Volpato, Viaindustriae Publishing, Foligno 2019, pp. 91-113 (available on Moodle).
• Georges Didi-Huberman, “Atlas: How to Carry the World on One’s Back?”, exh. cat., Museo Reina Sofia/Tf. Editores, Madrid 2010 [especially: ‘ATLAS: Carrying the Entire World of Sufferings’, chapter 2, pp. 60-117] (available on Moodle).
• Georges Didi-Huberman, ‘The Album of Images According to André Malraux’, in “Journal of Visual Culture”, 14, 1 (2015), pp. 3-20 (available on Moodle).
• Georges Didi-Huberman and Arno Gisinger, ‘New Ghost Stories’, in “Palais”, 19 (February 2014), pp. 193-219 (available on Moodle).
• Rosalind Krauss, ‘Reinventing the Medium’, in “Critical Inquiry”, 25, 2, ‘“Angelus Novus”: Perspectives on Walter Benjamin’ (Winter 1999), pp. 289-305 (available on Moodle).

NB: The complete programme will be presented and made available at the beginning of the course.

Non-attending students will bring, in addition to the programme indicated above, one of the following texts of their choice:

• Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media”, ed. by M.W. Jennings, B. Doherty, T. Y. Levin, Harvard University Press, Cambridge (MA) 2008.
• Giuliana Bruno, “Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art, Architecture, and Film”, Verso, 2002
• Georges Didi-Huberman, “The Eye of History: When Images Take Positions”, trans. by Shane B. Lillis, The MIT Press, Cambridge (MA) 2018.
• Elio Grazioli, “La collezione come forma d’arte”, Johan and Levi, Monza 2012.
• Rosalind Krauss, “Le Photographique”, Macula, Paris 1990.

NB: It is advisable to contact the professor in the case of specific requests or particular language needs to agree on a text of one’s choice other than the suggested bibliography.

The exam will consist only in an oral test, both for attending and non-attending students, with questions related to the bibliography mentioned above and the topics covered during the course. In addition to the understanding of the main theoretical ideas, the professor will test the students’ ability to recognize and discuss photographs and other images considered in class or reproduced in the reference essays, as well as their ability to develop an independent critical thought and create parallels between the topics.

The interpretative reading of theoretical texts and of images will be carried out in class as methodological exercise to facilitate learning. The theoretical texts discussed by the professor, as well as the selection of images that will be projected in the classroom as slides, will be made available to students on the online platform Moodle during the course (for copyright reasons images and texts cannot be made available in any other way). Any possible visits to exhibitions and lectures by other professors or experts in the field will be an integral part of the course –more information will be provided during classes.
Class attendance is recommended to all students and is required to those who wish to apply for a thesis in History of Photography, especially in relation to contemporary art and to visual production and culture. Those who skip more than 30% of the lessons will be considered non-attending students and will have to add one of the books of the suggested bibliography in preparation of the exam.


This subject deals with topics related to the macro-area "Poverty and inequalities" and contributes to the achievement of one or more goals of U. N. Agenda for Sustainable Development

Definitive programme.
Last update of the programme: 27/08/2019