On Photography | Study Guide

Susan Sontag

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Course Hero. "On Photography Study Guide." Course Hero. 1 Mar. 2019. Web. 6 July 2020. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/On-Photography/>.

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Course Hero. (2019, March 1). On Photography Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved July 6, 2020, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/On-Photography/

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Course Hero. "On Photography Study Guide." March 1, 2019. Accessed July 6, 2020. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/On-Photography/.


Course Hero, "On Photography Study Guide," March 1, 2019, accessed July 6, 2020, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/On-Photography/.



Susan Sontag

Year Published





Nonfiction, Philosophy

At a Glance

Susan Sontag's critical collection On Photography is arguably her most well-known work. It originally appeared as a series of essays in the New York Review of Books, beginning with "In Plato's Cave" in the October 18, 1973, issue. The other five essays were published in the magazine between 1973 and 1977. These essays, collected and published in one volume in 1977, placed the photographic image in critical cultural context with other visual arts. Sontag's detailed theories on the way photography has changed how people look at the world were mostly well received and reviewed, earning her the National Book Critics Circle Award and rave reviews from several publications. However, her contention that photographers and consumers of such images appropriate their subjects was not entirely accepted by photographers themselves.

Her ideas expressed in On Photography continue to be referenced in modern critics' discussions of both the act and the art of photography, despite the fact that not a single photographic illustration appears. This has been cited as a remarkable instance of Sontag's confidence in her own writing.

About the Title

Susan Sontag discusses her perspectives on photography and its cultural significance in six essays.


This study guide for Susan Sontag's On Photography offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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