Photo & Film Summer Courses Taught by MFA EDA Alumni

This summer, Duke is expanding its Summer Session offerings. MFA in Experimental and Documentary Arts alumni are teaching several new Art, Art History & Visual Studies courses, including:

ARTHIST 303-01: The History of Photography

Mon+Wed+Fri 2:00-3:30pm
Instructor: Will Warasila

Major artists and movements in the history of the photographic medium, including visual and critical traditions inherited and manipulated by photographers, the ways photography participated in nineteenth- and twentieth-century art movements as well as documentation and social change, and critical photographic discourse throughout this period. Since its invention in the mid-nineteenth century, photography has occupied an ambiguous position in relation to art. It has been seen as both a rival and a supplement to traditional media like painting, printmaking, and sculpture, but photography has also enjoyed what one writer has called “a complex social life,” playing a significant role in in areas such as as scientific documentation, commercial illustration, journalism, vernacular photography and social media.

ARTSVIS 290: Documenting the Family

Tue+Thu 2:00-4:00pm
Instructor: Alanna Styer
Course Flyer

The impulse to take photographs is universal. Many of the first images we see are not of something considered to be “fine art” but rather an image of our family, whether it be a mundane moment or a celebration. While we are all isolated in our homes, we continue to be compelled to document the moment.

Documenting one’s own family comes with a unique set of moral dilemmas, emotional tension, and questions of truth. This course will engage with these complications as we continue to document the space we inhabit and those we share it with. We will engage with a range of artwork focusing on the themes of family and memory. We will discuss the major dilemmas of creating work about one’s own family and the reliability of memory. We will explore the history of family documentation from early tintype portraiture to contemporary photography and experimental film. Students will apply this knowledge to think and write critically about art and create an original documentary project using the medium of your choice.

A background in studio arts is not required. However, no class time will be dedicated to teaching technical skills, so a knowledge of one’s chosen medium is beneficial. Our time together will be used for discussions and critiquing student work.

ARTSVIS 290S: The Photographic Story

Mon+Thu 12:00-1:16pm
Instructor: Julie Platner

The focus of this class is to identify photographic territory on which to build a narrative photo story series with an identifiable arc, working within and defining what our current limitations are. The session culminates in the production of a final project: a series of images representing a photographic story that can be integrated into a portfolio. The student’s body of work is to be informed by relevant precedents from the history of photography, with an emphasis on identifying bodies of photographic work that communicate something larger than a single idea while adapting their own concept into a standalone story series. The class will meet twice a week (online) and participate most weeks in a larger, group critique of their respective developing stories. We will be visited virtually by 2-3 talented and influential photographic storytellers.

ARTSVIS 119s-02: Intro to Digital Photography

Mon+Thu 2:00-4:05pm
Instructor: Kate Auger

The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

Our focus will be exploring basic photography techniques and principles within our current limitations of our localized environments. Expect to investigate the methods of which we see and know. Now is the time to ask, “Where am I right now?” and not think just physically, but mentally, spiritually, and existentially while grappling with everything in the world. This is an opportunity to explore photography through the lens of current challenges.

AMI 357s: Editing for Film and Video

Thu 12:30-2:35pm
Instructor: Alex Morelli
Course Flyer

Want to learn how to edit in Adobe Premiere? Make films from the comfort of your living room? From epistolary novels to collage painting, photomontage to pop music sampling, the practice of remixing media culture is a well-worn but distinctly modern form of expression. With the explosion of cinema in the early part of the 20th century came new mass-produced archives, and alongside them the found footage film. In this production-based course, students will learn the archival research, digital video editing, and image manipulation skills to produce found footage films across a variety of genres. Along the way, they will trace the history of artists who have re-appropriated still, moving, and desktop images to produce striking works of cinema—all without touching a camera. Questions? Contact Alex Morelli (

AMI 301S-01: Moving Image Practice

Mon 9:00-10:15am
Instructor: Colleen Pesci
Course Flyer

***Camera not required!*** Moving Image Practice explores the endless possibilities of time-based media through the investigation of sound, image, and light. In this course, the students will learn how to edit, film, and work with sound through the completion of both group work and individual projects. The students will engage in critique and class discussion via Sakai’s Forums. Some of the exciting projects we will be working on are desktop films, correspondence films, found footage films, and light studies. For more information contact instructor Colleen Pesci at