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On 25 November 2019, Rijksmuseum curator Hans Rooseboom generously shared a selection of photographs from the museum’s collection with students taking the AUC course "The Photograph as Social Political Document" taught by AUC tutor and lecturer Dr. Janna Schoenberger.

The Photograph as Social Political Document

Open to second- and third-year AUC students, The Photograph as Social Political Document is a course coordinated by Dr. Schoenberger that teaches students to formally analyse photographs and develop the capability to critically address images. Although some viewers may see the photograph strictly as art object, this course instead examines the history of photographs as they have functioned in the scientist's laboratory, the courtroom and mass media, among other contexts. Ultimately, students are encouraged to question the assumed veracity of the photograph and to discuss how the photograph has been used as a device in argumentation from a variety of disciplines and perspectives.

Putting theory into practice at the Rijksmuseum

Students taking the course went to the Rijksmuseum to see the photographs firsthand, getting a sense of the objects and their materiality. During their visit, Hans Rooseboom carefully chose images that aligned with the course’s content, including prints that were discussed in the classroom, as well as others that demonstrated the Rijksmuseum’s wide range of work, such as vernacular photographs.

Students were also able to see rare works of the collection, including the very first photobook ever made by the first female photographer, Anna Atkins: her Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions (1843 - 1853). The book is one of the most exciting objects in the Rijksmuseum’s collections. Satisfied with the visit, many of the students reported that this outing was the highlight of the course.