Photography, lynching, and moral change

Photography, lynching, and moral change
Senior Michelle Dezember (left) and Emily Lewis '05 (right) help Assistant Professor Briget Cooks research the history of exhibitions of African-American art and culture.

The Markkula Center for Applied Ethics has been inviting the campus community to explore ethical issues at “Ethics at Noon” events for many years. Last January, Assistant Professor of Art History and Ethnic Studies Bridget Cooks gave a talk on “What Do We See When We Look: Photography, Lynching, and Moral Change.”
Cooks’ “Ethics at Noon” presentation and scholarly research discusses the existence and exhibition of photos depicting the lynching of African- Americans. She addressed some interesting questions, including:

• Who takes such horrifying pictures and why?

• Why would a museum or gallery want to display such disturbing images?

• Why would any of us want to view such pictures?

• Can the experience of seeing such pictures be redemptive?

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