Past Events

What Is Photography?

Lecture Series – Sean Robert Willcock

  • 21 February 2019
  • 6:30 – 8:30 pm
  • 18.30-19.00 Drinks Reception
    19.00-20.30 Lecture and Discussion
  • Lecture Room

This talk covers the origins and early uses of photography, considering what set the technology apart from other forms of visual media. What is photography? What truth value does it have? How has it shaped our relationship to art and science, self and other, life and death? Such are the guiding questions of the lecture series. This inaugural talk begins to answer them by looking at the images of William Henry Fox Talbot and other early photographers, introducing some key concepts and outlining popular scholarly perspectives on photographic technologies.

Suggested reading

  • Henry Fox Talbot, The Pencil of Nature (1844-46).
  • Susan Sontag, ‘In Plato’s Cave’, On Photography (1977), pp. 3-24.
  • Geoffrey Batchen, ‘Desiring Production’, Each Wild Idea: Writing, Photography, History (MIT Press, 2002), pp. 2-25.

About the speaker

  • Head shot of man

    My research examines the interrelationships between aesthetic practices and geopolitical violence during the Victorian period, with a particular focus on colonial photography in nineteenth-century South Asia. This year I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, and am working on my first book, which examines the visual cultures that developed in tandem with the political and military crises that characterised British engagements with India and its borderlands during the nineteenth century. Since completing my PhD in 2013 I have held teaching positions at the University of York and Queen Mary, University of London.