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. According to Sontag, photographs of atrocities are best received if they are:

2. Sontag claims that "good taste" is always _________ when invoked by institutions.

3. According to Sontag, why do images of atrocities fail to convey a singular, universal message?

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

5. Which of the following pairs of images appeared side-by-side in a 1937 issue of "Life"?

Short Essay Questions

1. According to Sontag, how does a photograph in the news media differ from a written account? How does the audience change?

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

3. 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.

4. Discuss the significance of the photograph's intended purpose. If a photograph is intended to convey a message, but because of the context in which it is displayed does not, is the photograph still successful?

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

6. 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?

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

8. What did Sontag mean when she claimed that the memory of war is mostly local? What does this mean for international news firms?

9. Sontag discusses two widespread ideas about the influence of photography. Sontag notes that the second idea might seem to be the converse of the first. What is the second idea? Discuss the second idea using support from the book.

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

Essay Topics

Essay Topic 1

On witnessing suffering in a photograph, are we morally or ethically obligated to be emotionally moved? Sontag suggested that perhaps the viewer should not feel ashamed for not feeling a reaction. Do you agree or disagree? Support your position with a discussion of the ethics of witnessing suffering from such a distance.

Essay Topic 2

Are images sufficient to provoke anti-war sentiment? Sontag ultimately concluded that photographs alone could not achieve this end. Do you agree or disagree? Are some images striking, shocking, horrifying, or compelling enough to effect change? Do some of Sontag's examples, such as the coverage of the Vietnam War, work for or against her assertion?

Essay Topic 3

Sontag also traced the relationship between the presence of the press and the practice of war-making. In one example, she discussed the execution of a suspected Vietcong soldier by Brigadier General Loan, suggesting that the execution was a performance for the photographer present on the scene. Does media coverage affect the waging of war? Are journalists neutral and uninvolved? Discuss the relationship between journalists' presence and soldiers' behavior. Provide specific examples.

(see the answer keys)

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