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. Which Virginia Woolf book does Sontag discuss in detail?

2. Which of the following images was often thought to represent a mother, looking tellingly into the sky during an air raid of the Spanish Civil War?

3. Sontag lists many effects of photographs depicting war victims. Which of the following was not one of the effects she lists?

4. Sontag claims that American journalists have always followed one tacit prohibition. What have American journalists always avoided?

5. After World War I, the general public thought of the War as:

Short Essay Questions

1. Discuss the reaction of the British public to the image of trenches of unburied bodies taken 10 days after a British defeat during the Boer War. What does this reaction say about the sensibility of the public?

2. Discuss the significance of "Here is New York," the exhibit of photographs taken on September 11th during the collapse of the World Trade Center.

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

4. According to Sontag, how do mass Hollywood productions influence the public's perception of catastrophic or horrific events?

5. How do captions sway interpretations of images? Discuss one of the examples Sontag provides in Chapter 1.

6. Why do images of pain challenge us to look without flinching? According to Sontag, what purpose does this serve?

7. Discuss one way in which the development of technology during and after the Vietnam War has affected the veracity of photographs.

8. Sontag stated that the photographer's intentions do not determine the message of the photograph. Discuss the contributing factors which influence the reception of photographs in the media.

9. 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?

10. Sontag agrees with Woolf's assertion that the educated class has failed to understand war. How is this a failure of empathy or imagination?

Essay Topics

Write an essay for ONE of the following topics:

Essay Topic 1

Media coverage of the Vietnam War produced a mass outcry against war, while the media coverage of 9/11 produced more divergent effects on individuals. What do you think accounts for this difference? Is it perhaps the difference between a far-off conflict and an attack at "home"? Is it perhaps something in the nature of the wars themselves? Is it the difference in media coverage? Or is it something altogether different? Defend your position with evidence and support.

Essay Topic 2

Sontag suggested that galleries as venues for war photography and images of atrocity may not produce the proper reverence for the subjects and their suffering. Her main contention was with the environment which cultivates casual interest. Do you agree? Does displaying images of atrocities in public places diminish their effect? Are we, as Sontag suggests, less likely to linger and contemplate? Support your discussion with evidence and relevant analysis.

Essay Topic 3

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.

(see the answer keys)

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