Photography and the Sciences

Does photography belong in the history of art, or does its status as an “automatic” or “scientific” recording technique and its many uses in the sciences distinguish its history from that of earlier visual media? How does photography look when we approach it from the cultural history of science? How might its role in the sciences have shaped photographic aesthetics in the arts? This course examines the making of photography’s discursive identity as an experimental and evidentiary medium in the sciences, from its announcement to the public in 1839 to the digital innovations of the present day. We take a historical and archival perspective on uses for (and debates over) photography in different fields of the natural and human sciences, grounded in visits to photographic collections at Yale.

Taught by Chitra Ramalingam Fall 2019
Course Number: 
HSAR 832, HSHM 656, HIST 949