Photography and Film Theory


  • To know the history of ideas and main problems associated with photographic and filmic representation;
  • To be able to critically connect concepts and currents of thought linked to photography and film theory and criticism;
  • To have a critical and wide-ranging understanding of the relationship between history and artistic production between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 21st;
  • To produce academic and artistic discourse based on themes that are central to thinking about images, such as realism, territory and authorship.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Luís Guilherme Jordão de Mendonça


Weekly - Available soon

Total - 280

Teaching language



Not applicable.


  • BARTHES, Roland, A câmara clara, Lisboa, Edições 70, 2008;BARTHES, Roland, A câmara clara, Lisboa, Edições 70, 2008;
  • BELLOUR, Raymond, Between-the-Images, Zurique e Dijon, JRP|Ringier & Les Presses du Réel, 2012;
  • CAMPANY, David, Photography and Cinema, Londres, Reaktion Books, 2008;
  • DE BAECQUE, Antoine, Camera Historica, Nova Iorque, Columbia University Press, 2012;
  • KRACAUER, Siegfried, The Past’s Threshold – Essays on Photography, Zurique, Diaphanes, 2014;
  • MAH, Sérgio, A fotografia e o privilégio de um olhar moderno, Lisboa, Colibri, 2003;
  • MEDEIROS, Margarida, Fotografia e Verdade: uma história de fantasmas, Lisboa, Assírio & Alvim, 2010;
  • SCHEFER, Jean Louis, The Ordinary Man of Cinema, Nova Iorque, Semiotext(e), 2016;
  • SONTAG, Susan, Ensaios sobre Fotografia, Lisboa, Publicações Dom Quixote, 1986.

Teaching method

Classes are based on constant dialogue between photography and film, highlighting the main currents of thought - a historiography of ideas - throughout the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Photographs and film excerpts will illustrate the vast theoretical corpus. The presentation of scripts, interspersed with discussions about core texts, will always aim at equipping students with analytical tools for the production of a written assignment, based on a case study that meets the challenges presented in class.  Students’ participation will be encouraged and taken into account in their evaluation.

Evaluation method

Evaluation Method - Oral presentation, Critical reading of sources, Written essay.(100%)

Subject matter

The themes of realism, territory and authorship in photography and cinema are essential subjects in any effort to theorise about the ontology of the image. Serge Daney said that cinema maintains a relationship with reality, but it is not reality as such - it is important to recall this statement bearing in mind the immersive power of cinema. If cinema is of the world but is not the world, photography, in turn, is in the world and seems not to escape that immanence. In photography, the intrinsic documentary and automatic nature of the medium is always being pushed to the limit of what we have conventionally agreed to call realism, which raises issues connected to art, such as signature or instrument of power. A number of case studies will be used to trigger ideas, speculation and discussions about texts.