m ay 8

catvideocam1500.gif (500×500)
sousveillance: you watchin’ kitty watchin’ you.

NSA Kids books
dr. seussveillance

mason, “watching the watchers” (last day of class — no need to give this a deep read, but it’s fairly light and is an example of turning the camera on security (cameras)).

you have a project: produce one image of the security/border system used on this campus. we don’t have security cameras (yet!), so how do we render this space “safe”? if you prefer to venture off into the more dangerous lands of “the village of middlebury,” that’s okay, too. how do they deal with those pesky “townies”? how is the border between the two spaces marked? send it to me before class and we can review them together. wheeee!!!

m ay6

kitten kameras

surveillance! the cameras turn the tables..

more more more more more more more more mourn more



let’s keep the reading light today (partially b/c the academic research is currently thin, but also because you’re busy, and also (!) because we want to focus on our class discussion…

if we think of advertising, gender is a big theme…

famous (and less so…) examples of manipulated images in the news: “when photoshop can get you in trouble

random things that are tangentially related to the class, even if not this specific class


a p r i l 2 9

Image result for cats and kittens memory game

let’s talk a bit more about (social) memory and identity…

in other news…

  • SFMOMA show on sharing images/photos (running until august…)
  • some visual urban sociology: looking for shade while waiting for the bus in LA (if interested in urban shade more generally, here’s a good new article on the topic)

in case you were wondering/wandering…

beta testing new policy guidelines…

some helpful reminders of things that are expected in the class.

  • coming to it. (i know it’s not always possible — people get sick, people get tired, people get sick & tired, etc.) but the actual classroom stuff is important, so you should come. if you can’t, you could inform your teacher, who is already trying to make allowances for your busy, hectic lives by eliminating assignment number 3. i would prefer not to FORCE you to come to class. class does work better if we all are there. i guess i’m was a bit naive that this would work without some threats of punishment… oh well, lesson learned. trust no one.
  • turn in assignment #2. due at 4.26 on 4/26. via email. to me. some important tips to keep in mind:
    • you should have a THESIS STATEMENT at the culminating point of your intro. please do this (and also remember that if you already knew the answer to your thesis w/o the research, you can push it a little further so that you are actually learning something new)
    • you should use each piece of (visual) evidence that makes a point that contributes to your larger thesis.
    • don’t forget to self-reflect and evaluate!
    • don’t forget to manage the file size of your PDF document before sending it to your humble servant who does not what their inbox to get full b/c of all the gigantic files dropped friday night.


a p r i l 2 4

more visual economies…

april 22

family time…

gillian rose, excerpts from doing family photography (this is a little on the long side, so take that into consideration. if you find yourself strapped for time, you can cut out the last chapter (i.e., the last 16 pages, although there is interesting stuff here about “publics” that could be worth your time, if you are interested in such things).)

april 17

other stiff

  • insta_repeat shows us how all instagram travel photos are the same!
  • ok, but maybe you’d rather see the same argument in video form. instatravel.
  • cute? ok. clever? sure. but does it matter? does it mean anything sociologically?

april 15

let’s talk about space..
  • jan gehl and brigitte svarre, how to study public life (this looks longer than it actually is — normally copies are 2 pages/page, but this is only 1 page/page, and about 1/2 are pictures, but it gives a good overview of methods for studying)
  • what kinds of space?

april 10


today we think about the public and the various forms of gender privilege that define who belongs where, and how photography is being used to push back on that privilege….

  1. jane, “dude…stop the spread
    1. manspreading in the news, and reactions against (or in tumblr form…
  2. desborough, “the global anti-street harassment movement
    1. street harassment: a video that made the rounds a few years ago; the story behind it; and the various critiques/addenda based on the way people of color are (not) represented and white men erased in the original video.

more: in case you…. want it?

the point is to think about the camera as a weapon in creating and defending alternative versions of public/shared spaces, especially around issues of gender/sexuality (droughts notwithstanding). or if we want to be more abstract in our sociology, we could consider tactics/strategies for developing and enforcing new norms.

class work


monday we will discuss the 2nd assignment in more details, but some quick things to keep in mind if you want an early start (and who doesn’t?)

  • format is similar to the last “photo essay” (but you can play with this if you like — if you prefer/feel more comfortable with “essay with photos” format, then go ahead. if you want an extended analysis of a single image, that’s cool, too.)
  • the former constraints (middlebury and identity) have been relaxed — anything goes! some of you will like this (finally, a chance to do what i *really* want!), some of you will not (whatever will i do!??!?). if you are in the latter camp, feel free to talk to me, as i am happy to provide guidance.
  • last time, outside (or inside, if you want to call class readings that) sources was encouraged but not required. this time, you need to bring in some sources. at least 3 (three), in fact. i’m happy to suggest some if you are at a loss. i am also happy to direct you to a giant building called the library. (i hear they even have a website!!!!)
  • when is it due? april 23, at 8.48 pm. no more middfiles nonsense. this time just simple, easy email. (but don’t forget to shrink your files, so they aren’t 30 MB. thanks!)

anythings else? yep! don’t forget to keep sending images based on the readings. only 10 more meetings to go!

april 8

a classic bit of old skool visual sociology:

erving goffman, gender advertisements

[warning: this is the entire book, which makes it look really, really long. it is, in fact, not that long, in terms of reading, since there are a lot of pictures of advertisements. thus, your plan should be to read the opening chapters (pp 1-27 in the book, which are pp 13-39 in the pdf) and to get a sense of the seven themes he identifies (they are helpfully listed in the table of contents, with a page referring you to the initial definition, and then leading to some photos. “licensed withdrawal” is given the wrong page number — it actually starts on p. 57). so even if you are hard copy sort of person, reading this online is probably a better bet.]

the reason for offering the entire thing, even if you don’t necessarily look at all of the specific advertisements, or if you think it is too dated (is it?), is to give you a sense of a different model for organizing and presenting visual research. as well as this being a fairly early “classic” in the field…

if you’re sick of white supremacists (and who isn’t?), stop now. but here are a couple of supplementary texts exploring the role of memes and irony for the spread of racist ideas.

and in a totally different form of meme news, here’s a story about how someone’s (flavia dzodan, who you should totally be following on twitter) statement got turned into a meme/slogan, that was then commodified/spread, but she never got any of the profits.

april 3

i don’t trust him…

randome stuffe

april 1

who are the biggest fools of all, april or otherwise? nazis — even kittens can’t save them.
  • how do nazis get represented in the ny times? read this.
  • on the other hand, what about self representation? here’s a quick take by sociologist lisa wade, “signaling white supremacy and provoking racist backlash
    • if interested, you can go looking for the types of racist flyers which have become common on college campuses in recent years. a quick search will pull up a lot — here’s a general story on this trend. think about what the visual language of whiteness is in these images.

special updates about ass/ignment one

  • please be sure to keep the size of your final essay from ballooning up to gigantibytastic sizes, which is easy to do when you start using photographs. there’s lots of ways to shrink file size of photos individually (such lowering the quality/resolution in your photo storage program), but you can also handle this at the document level. for example, the sample essay i shared in class was put together in powerpoint and was 65MB when all was said and done. but if you go the file tab, you’ll find the option to “reduce file size” and depending on your choice, you can drop the size tremendously — my document dropped to 2 MB and then saving it as a pdf cut it in half again.
  • please submit the assignment in the following way: in an effort to avoid having a lot of emails with still relatively large attachments drop in my email inbox all at once, i’m asking you that you upload your document to the course shared dropbox on middfiles. don’t know how to get to middfiles? here’s some help.
  • please give your documentS (essay and evaluation separate) a name that identifies the author(s) in some way (i.e., not just “dumb_class_assigment1.pdf, but rather linus_dumb_class_assignment1.pdf)
  • please submit as a pdf document
  • don’t forget to have a title, to have a thesis (and an argument!), a reference list, and SEPARATE evaluation.


march 20

these are all pretty short, so even though you have something due today, it won’t be too much of a burden for you to do the readings for class, right? think about the way “representation” “normal” and “culture” [not to mention “race”] are working through these texts. enjoy!

march 18

70252-1024__60033.1524121214.jpg (683×1024)
poor little kitty! (and if you are wondering about the dark, weird world of stock imagery, you could go here, an image even i thought better than to include. (not grisly but odd and inappropriate for sure)


content warnings! tread lightly, please.

even more extraneous stuff that you will never, ever read, but which is related and interesting, so it’s going to be included, whether it ever gets read or not. [please note that even the list above includes extra stuff crammed into the sub-bullet points, so i am really not trying to overwork you, especially since you have work due this week.]

march 13

i’m not sure how to take the version of “diversity” that focuses on the white/blue-eyed kitten, while nudging the grey kittens off screen or behind the text. but maybe we shouldn’t read too much into a cat food ad. right?

first things first: you can find the copy of the first assignment and the “sample” at this link (“assignments” above)

  • when colleges seek diversity through photoshop
  • stevens, creating a class: college admissions and educating elites chapter 5: race [currently having trouble uploading it, but will fix soon] (update: AAAAAHHHH! the file won’t work, and i doubt i will have time to figure out what the problem is, nor will you have time to read it. but it is available as an e-book in the library, and if you want to know how these things work, it’s a good overview (the study was done at hamilton, but current director of admissions at middlebury says this book’s version is the closest to our own that you might find in all the studies out there.))
  • the above chapter is a quick read but it is 44 pages, so if you don’t want to read so much (you’re busy!) (and now that it’s DOA), this from a different project tells a related story about how talk of diversity undercuts actual efforts to deal with racism. succinctly.


stop stop stop stop stop stop stop stop. stop.

following up on day one discussion of blackface and yearbooks (and in honor of the yearbook fotos being taken right across the hall from class (ps. i bet that is an interesting place/space of identity construction!)), here are a few links:

  • USA today reviews 900 yearbooks for racist images. spoiler alert: they found some!
  • of course, yearbooks also document other issues, such as campus protest and anti-racist progress. “beyond blackface
  • this is not just an issue from yesteryear. blackface at UTennessee. [in an effort to bring this full circle, notice the framing in terms of college/student diversity]
  • protest going on this week at sarah lawrence about racism on campus and failure of “diversity” efforts. follow on tweeter!
  • AND, of course, in this day and age (and all days and all ages), it is not just about photo selection as discussed in class, but also how the photos are manipulated. here’s a classic example of OJ Simpson, while here’s an example that popped up on twitter Monday about Fox News altering an image

march 11

the visuals of race and crime

excessive stuff below. ignore at your pleasure

march 6

Image result for hang in there kitten poster on wall

extra stuff you will never read in a million years is safely separated and placed below this box.

march 4

material culture! what can we learn about the stuff people have/love/hate?

jon wagner, “seeing things”

here are some of the art projects that explore material culture/stuff, which you can explore if you so desire….

  1. rania matar, a girl and her room
  2. lauren greenfield, generation wealth (good bibliography at the bottom! — she also has other interesting projects, like girl culture and kids + money)
  3. adrienne salinger, teenager (no direct link, but easy enough to find. as a collector of teeth and tooth accessories, i also recommend the “tooth” series…)
  4. peter manzel, “material world: a global family portrait” (there’s a lot here, but the most famous of his work is where he has families take all their possessions out of their home and pose with them outside of it: here’s the US example, and here’s the south africa example.

february 27

manny the selfie cat

let’s look at how selfies are used by individuals and groups to reclaim/remake identity…

  1. wortham, “on instagram, seeing between the gender line” (ny times article, so not so academicky) [related: “portraits of america’s genderqueer community” — here just to be here, not because you have to look at it.]
  2. ferreday, “like a stone in your stomach: articulating the unspeakable in rape victim-survivors’ activist selfies” (cw: sexual violence) [a link to the case she discusses if you want to see it yourself: project unbreakable (cw: images of abuse)]
  3. warfield, “mirrorcameraroom: the gendered multi-instabilities of the selfie” (this one is kind of theoretically dense (or, “exciting”) but has some interesting ideas (“glitch feminism”) as well as a different methodology, so worth your time, but if you are short of time, then definitely read the first two and leave this for another day.) [[if you want to watch/listen to her give a 40minute presentation on why selfies are great, you can watch here. if not, you can ignore]]

anything below is not to be read under any circumstances (unless you’re interested in that sort of thing…)

february 25

self(ie) identity!
  1. jill rettberg: seeing ourselves through technology: how we use selfies, blogs, and wearable devices to see and shape ourselves 
    this is a link to the entire book, which you don’t have to read (but you can!). instead, definitely read chapter 3, “serial selfies” and, if you feel like it (which you probably won’t because you already think this is too much reading!), chapter 4 “automated diaries” –both are interesting as identity projects and data sources.
  2. t. senft “mirocelebrity and the branded self”
  3. veum and undrum, “the selfie as global discourse

[[if social science takes on identity are not clear for you, here’s a pretty helpful primer on the issues of identity. you can skim if you like.]]

below is stuff that is not required, but which is nevertheless included here for some unknown reason…

  1. saltz, the history of the selfie (art history!)
  2. souza et al. dawn of the selfie era (quantitative analysis!)
  3. selfie city — comparing selfie styles across 5 cities [and a feminist critique of the project]

february 20


one last day of exploring our options. so many! so exciting!

  1. photovoice: caroline wang and mary ann burris, “photovoice: concept, application, and use for participatory needs assessment”
  2. photo essay: luc pauwels, “conceptualizing the visual essay
  3. interactive documentary: paolo favero, “getting our hands dirty (again): interactive documentaries and the meaning of images in the digital age”

some examples of each, if you want to explore what these look like in practice. (suggested, but not required, but it’s good to look at examples of the work)

  1. photo voice — in honor of the 1-year anniversary of the parkland massacre, scenes from a protest. OR, in honor of our current “national emergency”: “this is what it looks like for kids traveling in the caravan
  2. photo essay — roman williams, “religion, migration, and change in a european city” (more can be found here, if interested)
  3. interactive doc — highrise — out my window

if you are at a loss as to what to send your humble teacher, another image option could be to grab something from one of the above examples and engage with it (how it works, doesn’t work, what’s there, what’s missing, why it’s compelling data, why it might not be….) — that is, if there’s something from the readings/examples that you want to talk more about in class, this is your chance to possibly make that happen…

february 18


what does it mean to do visual methods? here’s a nice overview by sarah pink, visual anthropologist, about various methodological options available, as well as some ethical points of concern.

pink, visual methods, chapters 1-3

also, if you like everything laid out in chart form, here’s a table categorizing the vast array of options taken from luc pauwels’s book.

integrated framework for visual sociological research

february 13

let’s start with some basic introductions to the field — what visual sociology is, and how to start doing it.

1) john grady, “becoming a visual sociologist”
this is a handy, dandy 12-point list of how to become a visual sociologist. while the entire piece is well worth reading, the first 6 steps are most important (as the last 6 refer more to those who are already professional sociologists). even though 6 is half of 12, those first 6 do take up the bulk of the essay. “becoming a visual sociologist”

2) richard chalfin, “looking two ways”
this is a good introduction taking a somewhat different perspective than the above, playing off the dual meaning of “how people look”: “study of visual culture”