DMU expert publishes new handbook for photography students and scholars


A photography expert at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has published a new handbook exploring the field’s rich history and discussing work by some of today’s most influential generation of photography scholars.

The Handbook of Photography Studies’ by Dr Gil Pasternak, Associate Professor of Social and Political Photographic Cultures in the Photographic History Research Centre (PHRC) at DMU, provides critical guidance to the most recent research in photography studies.

Gil Pasternak Handbook of Photography Studies

Split into five core parts and featuring the work of international experts, the book discusses photography in academic disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts and draws out the main concerns of photographic scholarship.

It interrogates photography's social, cultural and political influences and examines photography's multiple uses and continued changing faces.

“I opened the book with a section that explores the field’s histories, theories and research strategies, to give a thorough overview of what has been going on in the field since its emergence as such, about 50 years ago,” explained Dr Pasternak.

“The book then moves to demonstrate the various uses of photography in academic disciplinary and interdisciplinary contexts, drawing out key debates, enduring issues, and discussions about the influence of culture and geopolitics on photographic practices and scholarship alike.”

Dr Pasternak also delves into the relationship between the photographs we make and those that we encounter in everyday life, and looks at how digital technology regularly boosts our exposure to new and historical photographs alike.

“I wanted to make the book as informative and useful as possible for students and scholars new to the field,” he said.

“It is intended that readers gain in-depth insights into the field and its main concerns, while learning about its significance within the landscape of multiple academic disciplines such as archaeology, history, art, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, race and gender studies and many others.”

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Steve Edwards, Professor of History and Theory of Photography and Co-Director of the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck, University of London, said: “This book is a most useful contribution to the study of photography, with many excellent contributions.

“Chapters are much more substantial than is usual with works of this type, allowing authors to explore their topics in some depth and explore a range of approaches.

“Pasternak has done a wonderful job.”

Gil Pasternak

Alongside his work at DMU, Dr Pasternak is also a member of the advisory board for the journals ‘Photography & Culture’ and ‘Jewish Film & New Media’.

Earlier in life he worked as war photographer, photojournalist, fine art photographer, and photography archivist – experiences that have informed his academic thinking and led him to concentrate his research on socially, culturally, and ethnically related political issues.

His research into both past and more contemporary uses of photography has meant that over the years he had to familiarise himself with a wide range of research methods and approaches – from working with archives, analysing the involvement of photographs in real-life events to gathering data from domestic records or through interviews.

When shaping his new book, Dr Pasternak drew on these professional and academic experiences to make the volume as comprehensive as possible.

Tanya Sheehan, Professor of Art and a photography expert from Colby College, USA, said: “This is a book designed for 21st-century students, one that will prepare them to ask well-informed, timely questions about the medium’s histories and historiography.”

Dedicating ‘The Handbook of Photography Studies’ to his past, present and future students, Dr Pasternak said he hopes the text will become “an invaluable resource for future generations of photography scholars from all disciplinary backgrounds.”

To find out more or to order the book, click here.

Posted on Tuesday 28th January 2020

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