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Con/Text: Writing With Photographs

Boy Lying on Couch, Reading Comics, 1964
William Gedney Photographs and Writings
Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

Try giving your favorite photograph three completely different titles: you'll find the image transforms to fit each name. As Sontag states, "Photographs are mute." From the caption, to the essay, to the poem, words speak for the images they accompany, but not without their own sensory limitations and ambiguity. These two modes of documentation—photography and writing—challenge, co-depend, and contextualize each other.

In this course, we will practice writing with photographs, exploring the ways language and images can open into the other's work toward meaning. During the first part of the course, we will visit the university archives photograph collection, discuss related readings, and experiment in several forms of writing with photographs. During the second part of the course, participants will choose a genre, subject, or artist to work with as they compose a final project that models the dynamic coherence between words and images. (16 hours/All Levels)

Andrea Applebee is a poet, essayist, and editor based in Durham. Her poems, essays, and reviews have appeared in Absent, Ditch, Ocean, Hot Metal Bridge, Boog City and other magazines. In her work she has explored themes ranging from the nature of objects and the body to geology and weather, and is currently working on a manuscript grounded in the study of local plants. Andrea is an Associate Editor at Tupelo Quarterly and has taught critical and creative writing for the past six years with a focus on photography, philosophy, and poetics. She holds an MFA in nonfiction and poetry from the University of Pittsburgh. She grew up in Charleston, SC and attended college at Davidson here in North Carolina.

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