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RPHC4003 Contextual Studies Project Brief

RPHC4003 Contextual Studies Project Brief

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Unit Handbook

Unit Handbook

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Published by: BA (Hons) Photography, Contemporary Practice on Jan 23, 2013
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CONTEXTUAL STUDIES: PHOTOGRAPHY
ESSAY BRIEF 1.
Introduction
This essay is the first of two that form part of a unit that runs throughout the first year and provides atheoretical context for the visual units.
In the first 12 weeks of the semester it provides an introduction to the nature of representation and considersthe questions and issues that arise from this process. It examines the ways in which we perceive andstructure information, and It explores the concept of language and the communication of meaningpredominantly through an introduction to semiotics. This is related directly to the construction and reading of the image and the potential of the visual sign for the expression of meaning.
The ways in which the image reflects and expresses complex social and cultural issues and contexts is alsoa significant focus which is explored through visual references that engage with themes concerned withphysical space and landscape and with the body.
The essay brief encourages you to build on the ideas discussed in the supporting lectures given this termthrough your own, independent research. It is also intended to help you improve your research skills, your ability to analyse, and use references to develop and support discussion and debate. Support during thedevelopment of your essay and the feedback you will receive are designed to build your skills andconfidence in written communication.
Learning outcomes
LO1 A growing understanding of critical ideas regarding perception,meaning, and communication.
LO2 A growing appreciation of the application and operation of concepts of visual communication to bothhistorical and contemporary practice particularly in photography.
LO3 A developing knowledge of theoretical cultural ideas and perspectives and their importance in bothhistorical and contemporary practice
LO4 Developing essential academic skills to support, explore, and expand concepts, support criticalanalysis, the understanding and development of ideas and their expression in verbal and writtenform.
 Your task
Below are 4 essay titles. You should select one as the subject for your written work They are questionsrelevant to the ideas you have been exploring this term and provide a starting point. You should use this todirect your independent research to understand the issues and ideas raised by the question you select, andbuild arguments and discussions that debate your chosen questions supported by your research material.The four titles are,,,,
1.
Happy Families: Family portraits tell us very little about the individual family, far more aboutwhat society believes the ideal family should be.
Discuss and debate this statement withreference to one photographic image from the 19
th
century and one from a contemporaryphotographer (work produced in the last 30 years).
2.
In what ways can photographic images of the American West be regarded as expressions of spiritual belief.
Discuss with reference to the works of at least two photographers or painters.
3.
Why is photography so powerful and so problematic in relation to the idea of representation?
 Discuss either using examples of portrait photography or photojournalism.
4.
How can ‘the gaze’ construct our relationship to an image and convey meaning.
Discuss inrelation to the painting Las Meninas by Velasquez and Thomas Struth’s ‘’Museo del Prado” and Audience/Hermitage’ series.
Submission of work.
DATE FOR HANDING IN WORK: MONDAY 7
TH
JANUARY BY 12 MIDDAY.
 
THE ESSAY MUST BE 1500 WORDS LONG WITH VISUAL EXAMPLES, APPROPRIATE REFERENCES AND BIBLIOGRAPHY.
REFERENCING AND BIBLIOGRAPHY MUST FOLLOW UCA ACADEMIC CONVENTIONS BY USING THEHARVARD SYSTEM OF REFERENCING – SEE STUDY GUIDES FOR INSTRUCTIONS.
IT MUST BE SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY THROUGH TURNITIN (SEE MYUCA FOR GUIDANCE)
FAILURE TO SUBMIT WORK CAN LEAD TO FAILURE OF THIS UNIT AND MAY JEOPARDISEPROGRESSION ON THE COURSE.
IF YOU ARE HAVING DIFFICULTIES TALK TO YOUR TUTORS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO ASK FORADDITIONAL SUPPORT OR APPLY FOR EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES TO BE TAKEN INTOACCOUNT.
THIS ESSAY CONTRIBUTES 30% TOWARDS THE OVERALL MARK FOR THIS UNIT.
Assessment Criteria
Essay project timeline
Briefing: Wed 24
th
October.
Supporting workshopsWed 24
th
October Friday 2
nd
November Select your essay topic and have conducted preliminary research.Monday 12
th
November – You should have the outline of your essay structure and arguments
Hand in 7
th
January.
ESSAY PARTICULARS
*Make sure you answer the question!
*Make sure you adhere to the word count as you will be penalised for going significantly under or over.
*Always reference your sources when quoting.
This is essential
. Use
Harvard 
style of referencing.
Knowledge of Contexts, Concepts, Technologies and Processes
 Applied knowledge and theoretical understanding of perception, communication and meaningLO1Critical understanding of historical and culturalphotographic practiceLO2
Understanding through Application of Knowledge
Use of research to initiate, support, and develop ideasLO3Strength of argument through structure, flow, anddevelopmentLO4
Application of Technical and Professional Skills
Use of academic conventions to communicate clearlyin written formLO5
 
*At the end of your essay produce a
bibliography 
; a list of all the books you have read to produce the essay(even if you haven’t quoted from them).
This is essential
.
Neither footnotes / endnotes nor bibliography count towards the final word count.
*
Be aware of plagiarism – please refer to smyUCA for guidance on this issue.
When using pictures make sure you include their producer (artist / photographer), their title and their date. If they are of a specific material or size, include this also (i.e., marble, 24 foot high etc.). Also make sure it isclear to what pictures you are referring to in the text when using images in your essay. It may be useful tolabel them numerically, i.e. fig.1. (If doing this, also be sure to still include photographer, title, date with theimage itself)
ESSAY TIPS:
Compare and contrast specific images – ‘read’ these images carefully, in terms of your responses to themand also in terms of other writing on the photographer’s work.
Look at the photographer’s photographs, not their life stories.
 A good essay is an analysis of the work and its many contexts (from the personal to the historical) not justthat of biography. Try to avoid producing lists of life events (for example: they were born in X, then went tocollege in Y etc.) and if using life events – make them intersect with your argument.
What do you want to say about their work?
Look at how photographers use technique as a visual language – examine visual strategies, look atperspectives, camera position, composition, the use of certain styles and motifs. Look at the use of details,textures, colour and contrast.
Be sure to describe the images you use.
Locate their work within a context – who are they associated with, what ideas do they use?
What other  photographic histories does their work interact with?
Locate a central idea in the essay and read around it – don’t rely solely on catalogue essays, look around theissues you find.
The more adventurous your research the more interesting the essay will be.
Follow your gut instinct, but be sure to back it up with the relevant research – Remember, an essay consistsmostly of research. The better and more focused the research the more creative you can be with your arguments…
Be sure to structure your essay – provide an introduction and conclusion. In your arguments try to stayfocussed and don’t wander all over the place.
FINAL TIPS:
 Always have a good starting point:
If given a choice of questions, try and choose the one that either ‘speaks to you’ or that you think presentsthe real challenge (i.e. gets you worked up about the issues).
If asked to write on a subject of your choice – pick a topic that you really want to cover, not one that you thinkis relevant but a little dull. Don’t be afraid of the obscure and the personal – they are always morerewarding…
 Always do the research:
Trying to write a presentation or essay on the night before deadline is a recipe for stress ulcers and heartattacks. Any essay is always 90% research with 10% of the time spent writing up the research into an essay.(This is obviously an exaggeration – time should be left to write and rewrite the piece!)
 Always PLAN the research:
 A very simple point, but if you can structure the research well, the essay can easily mirror it, thus telling thestory of your research (the interesting bits at least). Think about opposing positions, about non-agreeingphotographers / writers, about using many different sources that you can pull together into a grand plan, anargument that takes us through the story of the research.

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