Master Class | Deborah Willis

Wednesday, February 6, 2013 - 7:00pm

Master Class with Deborah Willis: Photography, Archives, and Community History

Through her work as an art photographer, curator, and leading historian of African American photography, Dr. Deborah Willis has produced, uncovered, and published counter-images to dominant representations of African Americans.

In this Master Class, Dr. Willis will help participants develop a critical understanding of how photographs in the Archive are selected, categorized, described, and contextualized – and how these processes shape the histories that are written and stories that can be told. She also will discuss alternative sources – radical archives, personal/family collections, online photograph collectives –and their potential to democratize the archival process. Dr Willis will also provide advice for filmmakers, photographers, and anyone who uses photographic archives.

For more information, or to register call Scribe at 215-222-4201 or visit:

Deborah Willis is Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University and holds an affiliated appointment as a university professor with the College of Arts and Sciences in Africana Studies. She has been the recipient of many awards; among others, she was a 2005 Guggenheim Fellow and Fletcher Fellow and a 2000 MacArthur Fellow. Professor Willis is both a photographer and a scholar of the medium. Her works have been included in exhibitions in the United States, Portugal, Ghana, and Canada.

Her most recent publications are Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present (W.W. Norton, 2009), Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs (W.W. Norton, 2009), and, as editor, Black Venus 2010: They Called Her “Hottentot” (Temple University Press, 2010).

Willis received the 2010 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work—Biography/Autobiography for her book Michelle Obama: The First Lady in Photographs, and she is the 2010 recipient of the Honored Educator Award of the Society for Photographic Education. In her scholarship, Professor Willis has transformed the entire conversation about race and photography, and evolved a methodology that combines visual and cultural studies, high style and vernacular.


Cinema Studies Program
209A Fisher-Bennett Hall ⋅ 3340 Walnut Street ⋅ Philadelphia, PA 19104 ⋅ (215) 898-8782