Muhlenberg College Fall 2019

Week 7

Documentarian as Moral Witness

Coles, Chapter 3, “The Tradition: Fact and Fiction,” turns us towards a discussion of Dorothea Lange’s role in shaping the American tradition of social documentary. Please read the first 20-30 pages of Coles, chapter 3 for Tuesday. Of course, Lange is not the only documentarian who shows up in this chapter, but we start with her, building on our discussion from last time. 

In addition, for Tuesday, please read the introductory chapter to Linda Gordon’s book on Dorothea Lange. That chapter is a pdf accessible in our Canvas course and is titled “Lange Intro.”  It’s a very engaging short 7 page chapter. 

For Thursday, please finish Coles, chapter 3 and read the second Gordon excerpt I’ve uploaded to Canvas, “Lange Migrant Mother,” also accessible under Files. Again, a short 8 page reading.

This week, I also ask that you watch the documentary about Lange I was trying to introduce you to last week! That film is available now, on Canvas in Media Gallery.

Blog Post

Your next blog prompt (due on Wednesday, October 16) provides a chance to reflect on Dorothea Lange’s documentary work and to begin tying it to the larger issue of location. This is pre-writing for your next essay which goes deeper into the concept of location.  You’re welcome to write on any aspect of Lange’s work that you find interesting, or begin with this prompt:

With the help of Gordon and Coles, how would you describe Lange’s location as a documentarian photographer? What perspective, or point of view, shaped the way she used her camera? Please include an image in your post that helps illustrate or represent your written reflections. I look forward to reading your ideas on this!