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Documentary Photography: Jacob Riis, A Multimedia Computer Aided Learning Program

By Douglas Tallack


Jacob Riis was born in Denmark in 1849 and emigrated to the United States in the 1870's. He began his photographic career as a press photographer, but the cycle of boom and bust meant that his living was precarious and he passed through a number of occupations before becoming a police reporter. He wrote 15 books and many articles illustrated with his work. He is best known for his depiction of urban poverty among the tenements of New York. Riis also campaigned as social reformer under Roosevelt. He died in 1914.Metadata only entryThis Computer Assisted Learning program was funded by the HEFCE Teaching and Learning Technology Program which produced a series of materials for teaching and learning based on new technology. Subsequent funding was provided by the University of Nottingham. It is one of the packages produced by the CAL Group* at University of Nottingham. The original concept and script for the application was devised by Professor Douglas Tallack also of Nottingham University. The program uses the example of Jacob Riis, the American photographer, to teach the analysis of documentary photography. The program, once installed, is entirely self contained and uses a combination of images, text and hyperlinked glossaries to lead the student through a discovery of how the process of analysing documentary photography may be constructed from first principles. The student is encouraged to interact with the program by developing an analysis of Riis' work as it is presented and recording it on the Windows Notepad, which is activated by the program. This analysis may then be compared with the "lecturer's interpretation" which is presented subsequently. The program also provides a good introduction to the work of Riis and the context in which he worked. It could be used as a self study aid or within a classroom or group context. It is to be admired for its elegant design, navigability and creative yet appropriate use of technolog

Publisher: Visual Arts Data Service (VADS), University College for the Creative Arts.
Year: 1998
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