Course Content

Course Content

This continuing education program CAS in Theory and History of Photography focuses on the cultural and historical significance of photography from its beginnings to the globalized present. Emphasis is placed on photographs in society and politics, in national and transcultural discourses, and in the museum, as well as on photographic images and processes in scientific theories and practices.

We provide participants with a deeper understanding of the medium from a theoretical, art historical, and media historical perspective. Drawing from more than ten years of insight, research, and experience built up by the program of international teaching and research on the Theory and History of Photography at the University of Zurich, we furnish program participants with knowledge in the follow areas: 

  • The theory and global history of photography as a medium, in both its analog and digital forms

  • Photography in its scientific, aesthetic, and historical contexts

  • Artistic, political, and not least ethical engagement with photographs

Learning Objectives

We provide the foundation for the intensive study of photography as a visual medium with a focus on theory, history, and practice.
As a participant, you will expand your research skills in the field of photography and critically engage with theoretical discourses about photography. You will learn to analyze photographs as visual and artistic objects, considering the relationship between the history of technology, materials, and the intellectual history of images. As a visual medium, photography thus emerges in relation to social and political discourses and to contexts of exhibitions, museums, the art trade, and public media. In a process of ongoing dialogue, we critically examine this network of relationships.

The continuing education program is designed to meet the following learning objectives:

  • As a graduate, you will be able to develop strategies for cataloging photographic works in museums, archives, and collections.

  • You will be able to formulate ideas for assessing and analyzing a historical collection or an exhibition concept.

  • You will be able to contextualize images within political discourse and as carriers of socially relevant messages.

  • You will understand photographic images as an active form of communication that shapes society, and not merely as historical testimonies and illustrations.