Please read pages 85-180 from On Photography by Susan Sontag.

Heroism of vision
Photographic Evangels
The Image-World

Please answer and submit the questions in the reading worksheet:
BISMCS 343 Sontag Questions #2.docx
Your answers can be in 1-2 sentence bullet points.On Photography



On Photography

Copyright © 1973 by Susan Sontag
Published by arrangement with Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Cover art and eForeword to the electronic edition copyright ©
2005 by RosettaBooks, LLC

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or repro-
duced in any manner whatsoever without written permission
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles
and reviews.

For information address

First electronic edition published 2005 by RosettaBooks LLC,
New York.

ISBN 0-7953-2699-8

On Photography ii



(A one pager by SS, May 1977)

In Plato’s Cave

America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly

Melancholy Objects

The Heroism of Vision

Photographic Evangels

The Image-World

A Brief Anthology of Quotations (Homage to W.B.)

About this Title

On Photography iii


One of the most highly regarded books of its kind, On Photography
first appeared in 1977 and is described by its author as “a progress
of essays about the meaning and career of photographs.” It begins
with the famous “In Plato’s Cave” essay, then offers five other
prose meditations on this topic, and concludes with a fascinating
and far-reaching “Brief Anthology of Quotations.”

“A brilliant analysis of the profound changes photographic images
have made in our way of looking at the world and at ourselves
over the last 140 years.”—Washington Post Book World

“Every page of On Photography raises important and exciting
questions about its subject and raises them in the best way.”—The
New York Times Book Review

“On Photography is to my mind the most original and illuminating
study of the subject.”—Calvin Trillin, The New Yorker .

Susan Sontag was born in New York City on January 16, 1933.
She received her B.A. from the College of the University of
Chicago and did graduate work in philosophy, literature, and
theology at Harvard University and Saint Anne’s College, Oxford.
A human rights activist for more than two decades, Ms. Sontag
served from 1987 to 1989 as president of the American Center of
PEN, the international writers’ organization dedicated to freedom
of expression and the advancement of literature, from which

On Photography v

platform she led a number of campaigns on behalf of persecuted
and imprisoned writers.

Among Ms. Sontag’s many honors are the 2003 Peace Prize of
the German Book Trade, the 2003 Prince of Asturias Prize, the
2001 Jerusalem Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
for On Photography (1978).

RosettaBooks is the leading publisher dedicated exclusively to
electronic editions of great works of fiction and non-fiction that
reflect our world. RosettaBooks is a committed e-publisher,
maximizing the resources of the Web in opening a fresh
dimension in the reading experience. In this electronic reading
environment, each RosettaBook will enhance the experience
through The RosettaBooks ConnecBISMCS 343

Sontag Reading Discussion Questions #2

Please answer the following questions from On Photography, pages 85-180:

1. Sontag discusses the tendency of the camera and the photographer to have an affinity to capture beauty and aesthetics. In your opinion, what is the role of beauty or the beautiful image in the documentary image?

2. Do photographs, even ones of suffering, abject poverty, and atrocities ‘inexorably beautify’ (creates beauty under all circumstances)? Is this needed? Is this morally conscionable?

3. Sontag discusses the technology of photography moving fast (too fast) in 1977 and its impact on the art form. What are the implications for today?

4. In the last chapter, Sontag mentions German philosopher Feuerbach and his prescient observations in the 19th Century about the image world replacing the real one. Does this have any resonance today?

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