Cabrillo College: Contemporary Trends in Photography

Cabrillo: Contemporary Trends in Photography since 1945

Instructor: Sheila Malone

Student Learning Outcomes:


1. Compare and contrast distinct movements and current trends in photographic image in the context of the history of photography since the middle of the 20th century.


2. Critically assess examples of contemporary photographic imagery and their impact on evolving trends in the visual arts, mass media and contemporary culture.


Course Objective:

This course will address contemporary trends, theories and applications of photography since 1945. Students will analyze current trends and compare distinct movements in photographic image making in the context of the history of photography since the middle of the 20th century. In addition, students will critically assess examples of contemporary photographic imagery. By the end of the semester students should be able to evaluate the role of visual language and photographic imagery within a fine art practice and in contemporary media culture.


Prerequisites: None


Student Expectations: Independent Study Weekly –

Regular weekly online participation is required. Participation in the course includes contributions to the discussion board based on weekly reading assignments. Also students are responsible for listening to podcasts, viewing slideshows and other weekly assignments.


Grades: Grades will be based on class participation in on-line discussions and meeting assignment deadlines. Late assignments (see due dates on-line and in course schedule), without a valid excuse, will be docked half a letter grade per day. A final exam will be released the week of the final exams.


40% -Participation based on weekly reading questions, and discussion questions.


20%- Assignments


20% -Midterm


20% -Final Exam


Texts: Suggested: Crisis Of The Real: Writings on Photography Since 1974 by Andy Grundberg: ISBN-10: 0893818550 available at Amazon and Aperture Books.


Other readings will be provided throughout the semester.


Hardware and Software Requirements:

This course will be taught using a combination of reading, reading questions, discussion of reading questions, podcasts and original essay compositions. The Computer Technology Center at both the Aptos and Watsonville campus has computers for students to do their assignments on.

You will need regular access to a computer and one of the following browsers. Be sure you are using a supported browser and your browser settings are correct for WebCT, our course shell. Browser tune-up page.

Mozilla Firefox, 3.0+

Internet Explorer 7.0+

Safari 5.0+

The QuickTime video plug-in is used

Adobe Acrobat reader is used to open PDF files

iTunes is used to listen/view weekly podcasts(lectures) on the Cabrillo iTunesU site.

To access weekly podcasts:

1.You must have a DSL or Cable web connection (modems are too slow)

2. You must download the latest version of iTunes from:

3. You need to open your browser and go to

4. Click on the "Login" area section of iTunes U. (For your username and password creation, go to

5. Choose the class by title.



Students With Disabilities: Students needing accommodations should contact the instructor ASAP. As required by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), accommodations are provided to insure equal opportunity for students with verified disabilities. If you need assistance with an accommodation, please contact Disabled Student Services, Room 810, (479-6379) or Learning Skills Program, Room 1073, (479-6220).


Academic Honesty: All students are responsible for knowing and observing Cabrillo College policies regarding academic dishonesty.



Course Schedule



Week 1: Welcome/Overview/Expectations, Intro to Modernism (readings, goals, learning modules) 

Week 2: Modernism (cont.) Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams , Minor White, Robert Frank, Crisis of The Real (COTR) 

Week 3: Postmodernism:Semiotics, Culture, Politics, Walker Evans, Gary Winogrand, Lee Friedlander,

Week 4: New Topographies: Robert Adams, Misrach, Joel Sternfeld

Week 5: Reframing Feminism and Photography, Nan Goldin, Sophie Calle

Week 6: Feminism : Sherman, Simmons, Kruger

Week 7: Conceptual Art, Sugimoto, Bernd and Becher, Baldessari,

Week 8: Pop Art: Warhol, Avedon, Prince, Samaras, Midterm Review

Week 9: Midterm

Week 10: Spring Break

Week 11: Boundaries: When Borders Blend: Fischli, Weiss, Polke

Week 12: Documentary Dilemmas I

Week 13: Photojournalism: Old and New:Capa, Bresson, Burrows, Clark, Nixon

Week 14: Mapplethorpe, The Starn Twins, Hype and the Art object

Week 15: Out of the Ordinary, Playacting, Chimera & Grotesque, Matthew Barney, Cindy Sherman, Paul McCarthy, Mike Kelley, Notes on the Sacred

Week 16: Photography at the Millennium, Jeff Wall, Andreas Gursky


Finals Week: Final Exam




Weekly assignments and content are released on Sundays at 9 a.m. and are due the following Sunday at 11: 30 p.m. (one week to complete weekly assignment readings, viewings, posting to discussion and assignment submissions of the reading questions).



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