27835 - Theory and Practice of Photography (1) (LM)

Academic Year 2023/2024

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, students will possess a thorough, monographic, knowledge, of few specific theoretical and poetical issues concerning the role of photography in the development of contemporary art. From a professional point of view, students will thus possess the necessary skills to properly approach, with the correct awareness, the diverse opportunities offered by the professional market in relation to conservation, curation and exhibition of photographic material.

Course contents

The exam for History of Contemporary Art A consists of two courses: Theories and Forms of Photography (Prof.ssa Muzzarelli) and Forms and Functions of Contemporary Art (Prof. Pinto). Contemporary Art History is an integrated exam of 12 CFU (6 CFU+6 CFU) and the verification and evaluation of the preparation follow the procedures laid down for an integrated exam, i.e. they must be taken in the same session and students must then register simultaneously for both exams.

To act as a common background to the integrated course of Contemporary Art History, some key points of the events of contemporary art will act as theoretical and methodological glue: the role of Marcel Duchamp in the conceptual turning point and the history of art and the openness to new study methodologies (cultural studies, gender studies, postcolonial studies).

After an introduction on the main historical and theoretical junctions that have seen photography take on a central role in the contemporary artistic and aesthetic debate, the course will address some key issues that have characterized this centrality of photography also in relation to other sectors of the creative and cultural industry (reproductive automatism, grip on reality, memory conservation, voyeurism, storytelling). Part of the lessons will also be dedicated to deepening the birth of the mass icon phenomenon and the relationship between women and photography, from a feminist and gendered perspectives point of view.


a) Mandatory texts and materials for every students (attending and non attending students):

  1. F. Muzzarelli, Moderne Icone di Moda. La costruzione fotografica del mito, Einaudi, Torino 2013.
  2. F. Muzzarelli, Fotografia e femminismo tra 800 e 900. Album, diari e scrapbook, Pearson, Milano 2024 (in corso di pubblicazione).
  3. Database of images useful for recognition test (images will be downloadable from online teaching materials/teaching).

b) A text of your choice from the following list (for STUDENTS who attended the course "Storia della fotografia" at DAMS, University of Bologna):

  1. F. Muzzarelli, Il corpo e l'azione. Donne e fotografia tra 800 e 900, 2007.
  2. R. Krauss, Teoria e storia della fotografia, edited by E. Grazioli, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 1996. Mandatory chapters number: 4, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10

c) For STUDENTS who have NOT attended the course of "Storia della fotografia" at DAMS, University of Bologna):

  1. C. Marra, Fotografia e pittura nel Novecento (e oltre), Milano, Bruno Mondadori, 2012.
  2. Drafts on the origins of Photography available on the elearning website)

Other drafts and materials available on the elearning website.

Teaching methods

Class discussion through projection of pictures and videos.

Some workshops, with the aim of going deeper inside the course's topics, we'll be communicated later.

Laboratory activities will be optional but with mandatory attendance. They provide for a final project/work that will contribute in its evaluation to the final and overall course grade.

Assessment methods

The exam consists of an interview to evaluate the critical and methodological skills acquired by the students. Students will be assessed especially considering whether they have acquired ability to orientate within the visual and written sources recommended in the bibliography and on the Virtuale platform, for finding useful information to illustrate topics and issues by connecting them.

What will be assessed: - Mastery of the contents - the ability to historically frame artists, poetics and theoretical contents- The ability to analyse themes and concepts - The ability to express oneself adequately and in a language appropriate to the subject being dealt with. Regarding the recognition test, male and female students will be asked to identify the authors of proposed images (not the title and date, although these are present in the reference database, see above), in order to test the assimilation of style recognition skills.

It will be assessed as excellent the performance of those students achieving an organic vision of the course contents, the use of a proper specific language.

It will be assessed as average the performance of those students showing mostly mechanical or mnemonic knowledge of the subject, not articulated synthesis and analysis capabilities, a correct but not always appropriate language, as well as a scholastic study of the topics of the course. It will be assessed as barely sufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, lack of knowledge of the recommended bibliography. It will be assessed as insufficient the performance of those students showing learning gaps, inappropriate language, no orientation within the recommended bibliography and inability to analyse the discipline.

Teaching tools

PPT and Videos

Office hours

See the website of Federica Muzzarelli


Gender equality Reduced inequalities

This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.