The Ethics of Image-Making:
Film, Television, and Digital Media
Dr. Alison Griffiths
VC Room B8-237
646 312 3730
646 312 3721
Office hours: Mon/Weds by appointment
Image making of all kinds is bound up with questions of
Who has the right to represent other people’s lives?
What are the consequences
of tackling sensitive social and political issues through the lens of nonfiction
photography, filmmaking, and digital media?
What issues do reality television, virtual
advertising, and social networking sites raise with regards to the rights of the individual
versus market economics of popular entertainment and Internet use?
This course places
contemporary controversies over the ethics of image making in the historical perspective
of debates going back to the 19
and early 20
centuries in order to see points of
convergence and divergence in the practices of image making and criticism.
After completing the course students will be able to:
Describe the multiple sites from the 19
century out of which debates emerged
around the ethical treatment of human subjects in photography, filmmaking, and
Critically analyze key case studies in image ethics, ranging from early nonfiction
filmmaking to emerging forms of digital media, which have generated significant
Evaluate and critique how theories of nonfiction film ethics might apply to image
making from consumer advertising, digital image retouching, political campaign
ads, reality television, and social networking sites.
Analyze the ethical responsibilities of the image-maker through consideration of
the relevant legal documents, the social position of the film’s subject, and the
production and reception contexts of the work.
Please purchase the following two books available at the Baruch
• Larry P. Gross, John Stuart Katz, and Jay Ruby, eds.
Image Ethics in the Digital Age
University of Minnesota Press, 2003) (abbreviated to
Cinema, Anthropology, and Turn-of-the-Century
Columbia University Press, 2002).