Find a Set / Find a Text; Read the Set Against the Text
"I study the social life of photographs. The culminating assignment in my classes is the following: “Find a Set, Find a Text; Read the Set against the Text.” All my students know it. It distills what I have learned over decades of working with photographs, as a scholar, a teacher, a researcher, a writer, a curator, and also as a practitioner myself. First, it’s not so good to work with single photographs—you need two at least, to contrast and compare. The word “Set” comes from mathematical theory, and directs attention away from specific inclusions to articulate the rules that generate what is “in” and what is “out.” The word “Text” comes from literature (the field of my Ph.D.)—essays, books, testimonies, archives. Where this process gets especially interesting is that the texts we read often do not match what we as viewers see. When I say to read images and texts “against” one another, I mean not only to highlight these contradictions, but also to layer them in time and space, opening them out to expand upon the making of our shared social life. For this, we need access to whole libraries of books, unbounded by preconceived fields of relevance. I am thrilled to share “Set/Text” with you here, foregrounding throughout the year a changing array of books and essays from various Yale libraries that have been my companions in this work on photographs."
Read the Yale News story about the opening event.
Many of the books on the physical shelves of the Model Research Collection in Bass Library also have electronic versions. Here are a few examples:
Peter Palmquist Collection of Women in Photography, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
Women at Yale, Manuscripts & Archives
Anu Paul, Digital Scholarship Project Manager, Digital Humanities Lab
Monica Reed, User Experience Designer, Digital Humanities Lab
Paulette Rosen, artist and boxmaker
Jae Rossman, Director, Department of Area Studies and Humanities Research Support