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    Vassar College
  Feb 19, 2018
Catalogue 2017-2018
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PHIL 340 - Seminar in Continental Philosophy

Semester Offered: Fall
1 unit(s)
Topic for 2017/18a: Frames of the Invisible. Politics of Photography. The transformation of textual into visual culture and the retooling of the cellular phone as a camera have given photography a new political role. From the self-immolation of a street vendor in Tunisia that unleashed the Arab Spring to the images of police brutality in the United States, photographs have mobilized grass root movements of political resistance against atrocity and oppression. The thesis of this seminar is that our visual culture is governed by a “regime of visibility” that regulates the background of what is represented. The snapshots and the photographs taken by ordinary people possess the unique power of eluding this “staging apparatus.” We discuss these images as performative statements of moral outrage and appreciate how they expose both patterns of dispossession and the uneven distribution of human suffering across world populations. This enables us to question whether the ethics of photography, and especially of photographs of human rights abuses, should not be directed at what is shown within the photographic frame but rather at the active and unmarked delimitation that lies beyond it, which limits what we see and what we are able, and unable, to recognize. Texts by Walter Benjamin, Merleau-Ponty, Susan Sontag, Roland Barthes, Vilem Flusser, Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Julia Kristeva, Edward Said, and Jacques Derrida, and images by Sebastiao Salgado, Gilles Peres, and Sophie Ristelbueber. Giovanna Borradori.

One 3-hour period.

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