In this seminar we will examine some of the most provocative ways in which photography has been imagined and practiced over the past century and a half, from early accounts of the daguerreotype to recent work on the digital image. Through close examination of photographic practices and works, as well as the critical discourses that have grown up around them, we will endeavor to understand not just what André Bazin calls the “ontology” of the photographic image, but also how the photograph gets thought about, talked about, utilized and, in turn, produced fantasmatically as a particular kind of object and a special way of picturing. In other words: what, precisely, is a photograph? Do we draw upon its material, chemical, visible, invisible, affective, or discursive properties to describe the essential aspects of this amazing and ubiquitous medium? Readings may include Azoulay, Barthes, Batchen, Bazin, Benjamin, Fox Talbot, Kracauer, Mann, Metz, Silverman,Sontag, Tagg, Wall.