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Home > History home > Prospective students > Undergraduate > Photography, Film and British Society 1850-1965
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Photography, Film and British Society 1850-1965


Value: two units


Dr Jane Hamlett


Taught through weekly two-hour seminars and supervisions of dissertation through a series of 1-to-1 meetings 


Taught unit: Oral Assessment (10%); Best 2 Essays out of 4 (20%) and 3-hour Exam (70%); dissertation unit: 10,000-word dissertation (100%)  

NB - Not to be taken in conjunction with Group 2 course unit: HS2302: Grand Designs: The Victorians and their Material Worlds

In the 1850s photography was established in Britain – and altered the way that Britons saw themselves forever. This course looks at the relationship between images, society and culture, from the coming of the camera to cinema and early television. We will consider the impact of photography on science and medicine, and how asylum doctors used it. Photography transformed understandings of place – and changed the way the British saw the Empire. The novelty of the photographic technologies, like the stereograph, often fascinated and delighted. We will also look at the role of photography in everyday life – from the staid Victorian family portrait to contemporary scandals over pornography. The second half of the course focuses on moving images and covers early cinema; newsreels and war photography; magazines, fashion photography and body images; the reception of Hollywood in interwar Britain; WW2 on film; the development of early TV programmes, including Coronation Street; television audiences, class and reception. As well as reading contemporary texts, students will look at a wide range of visual sources including newly digitised collections of photography (e.g. The Wellcome, Imperial War Museum, Frith Collections). In the second term, we will watch a series of key films. Each term begins with an ‘orientation’ session in which students are introduced to a range of methods for interpretation of images and films. 




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