Photography and Visual Arts


This course introduces photographic studies both as a source and a method for art history. It examines how photography – in its different practices, discourses and contexts – relates to another institutions and fields of art, from painting and museums to caricature and theater, from conservation and archives to literature and film. In addition to a historical and representational overview of photography, this unit aims at offering an intermedial approach to photography, highlighting the specificities and the potentialities of photographic objects in the particular context of art history. It addresses photography not only in historical and theoretical terms, but also as a transversal tool and as a research method. Through a thematic and nearly chronological approach, based on crucial texts and on Portuguese and international cases, students are expected to understand and apply sound theoretical notions in photography onto the analysis of particularly representative case studies. 

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Susana Maria Simoes Martins


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





Batchen, Geoffrey, Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History. Cambridge Mass. and London: MIT Press, 2001
Burgin, Victor (ed.). Thinking Photography. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 1982
Edwards, Elizabeth e Hart, Janice (eds.). Photographs, Objects, Histories. On the materiality of images. London – New York: Routledge, 2004
Edwards, Elizabeth, The Camera as Historian. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012
Marien, Mary Warner, Photography: a Cultural History. London: Laurence King Publishing, 2002
McShine, Kynaston, The Museum as Muse. Artists Reflect. New York, The Museum of Modern Art, 1999
Parr, Martin e Badger, Gerry, The Photobook: a History. 3 vols. New York, Phaidon, 2004, 2014
Sena, António, História da Imagem Fotográfica em Portugal. Lisboa: Porto Editora, 1998
Trachtenberg, Alan (ed.), Classic Essays on Photography. New Haven: Leete’s Island Books, 1980
Wells, Liz (ed.), Photography: a critical introduction. London: Routledge, 2009

Teaching method

Classes will combine both theory and applied activities. Selected readings will be suggested weekly, fostering individual and autonomous studies. There will be time in class devoted to the discussion of referential texts and key concepts of photographic studies. Practical classes in museums, archives and art exhibitions are also expected to take place. Students must have sufficient knowledge of English to follow the specific literature of the discipline. They will be encouraged to strengthen their language and communication skills.
NOTE: If needed, this course may be taught in English.

Evaluation method

Evaluation Method - Final Test(45%), a) Written Essay: individual assignment in which the student analyses and reflects critically on a specific topic/problem. The theme must be previously discussed with the docent. b) Class Presentation: conference-like paper on the research carried out for the written essay. (a)+(b): (55%).(55%)

Subject matter

1. Photography: technique, discipline or methodology?
2. The (non) artistic condition of photography: from the early debates to pictorialist aesthetics, in history and contemporary art.
3. International models and the Portuguese case: photography and world exhibitions.
4. Photography and Humor: caricature as a hybrid genre.
5. Knowledge of the world: photography between travel and tourism.
6. Photographic objects and the (im)materiality of images.
7. Preserving photography. Issues of conservation, collection, archive, documentation and exhibition.
8. A ghostly history of photography and photography as a research source.
9. Is a photograph worth a thousand words? Stories, literature and visual narrativity.
10. The photobook and printed photography. The city as a case study.
11. Photography and Cinema: temporality and intermediality.
12. Double exposures: photography in museums and exhibitions.
13. Photography as art and artists using photography.


Programs where the course is taught: