Regarding the Pain of Others Test | Mid-Book Test - Hard

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This test consists of 5 short answer questions, 10 short essay questions, and 1 (of 3) essay topics.

Short Answer Questions

1. Recalling traditions of the 16th and 17th century, Sontag claims that printing images of dark-skinned people in moments of suffering or pain is part of a long tradition of which of the following?

2. Which of the following was NOT true of the "Here Is New York" exhibit?

3. In interpreting photographs, Sontag claims that everyone approaches the image as which of the following?

4. Noting the long history of the "iconography of suffering," Sontag lists three types of art which depict incredible agony. Which of the following is NOT one of them?

5. According to Sontag, "to photograph is to frame, and to frame is to _______".

Short Essay Questions

1. Ultimately, Sontag notes that to discuss the desensitization of all television viewers is a provincial move, at best. Why does she argue this?

2. According to Sontag, how are photographs of victims a form of rhetoric? What is their purpose or message? How do they function to convey this message?

3. In her discussion of the emotional impact of artistic renderings of suffering, Sontag referrs to Kabuki or Bunraku plays. What are these plays? Why does Sontag include this example?

4. According to Sontag, why is there no museum dedicated to the victims of the slave trade?

5. Sontag compared the photograph to a maxim or a proverb. Explain this comparison. What does it tell us about the nature or impact of photographs?

6. According to Sontag, do people prefer artistic renderings or straight-forward representations of atrocities? Why?

7. Sontag claims that there is historical evidence to suggest that, despite contemporary belief, war has always been the norm, and peace the exception to that norm. Discuss one of the examples Sontag provided.

8. Sontag distinguished between "image makers" and "image takers". What is the difference between these two groups of artists? How are they perceived differently?

9. Discuss Sontag's assertion that some images serve as memento mori. What does she mean? How do they serve this purpose?

10. Sontag discussed the captions to Goya's "Los Desastres de la Guerra" (The Disasters of War). Explain the significance of these messages to the viewer. How do these captions affect the impact of the image?

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

Sontag commented extensively on the ways in which war photography and atrocity centered journalism has evolved from the inception of photojournalism. Discuss your views on the evolution of war photography. Do you agree with Sontag's assertions? Why or why not? Draw on specific historical and contemporary examples to support your analysis.

Essay Topic 2

In her argument about representation, Sontag also addressed the significance and ethics of censorship. It would seem that standards of good taste or propriety are fairly often at odds with the constitutionally protected freedom of the press. Delve into the issue of censorship. Are there instances in which censorship is the ethical choice? If so, when? If not, why not? Need public interest and censorship be at odds? Or, is censorship designed with public interest in mind? Defend your position with ample support and specific examples.

Essay Topic 3

Sontag's book focused, in part, on the ethical or moral ramifications of witnessing war. In particular, she explored the ethics of war representations which capture "full frontal" images of the suffering of others, but almost always shy away from such graphic depictions of the suffering of people like the anticipated audience. Do you agree that this tendency exists in photojournalism? Why or why not?

If you think it does, is there an ethical dilemma inherent in this unbalanced depiction?

If you think it does not, discuss how and why the news media avoid this. Provide examples to counter those Sontag provides.

(see the answer keys)

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