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Institute of Art History

Certificate of Advanced Studies in Theory and History of Photography

  • Lewis Morris Rutherfurd

    Lewis Morris Rutherfurd, photograph of the moon, 1864, albumen print mounted on cardboard, 23 x 18.5 cm, ETH-Bibliothek Zurich, Bildarchiv

    Whether depicting the moon or clouds, photography serves as a tool for researching natural phenomena. The American astrophysicist Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816–1892) created telescopes allowing astronomical objects to be photographed.

  • Kimbei

    Kusakabe Kimbei, Samurai in Armor, 1870–1890, hand-colored album print, 26.6 x 20.5 cm, The J. Paul Getty Museum

    Long forgotten, yet very present today in international research: early photographs from Japan. It was often women who colored photographs.

  • Ausstellungsansicht Guye

    Installation view of the exhibition Jung Lee, Christophe Guye Gallery, Zurich, 25 November 2021 to 5 March 2022

    Galleries shape the Zurich photo scene in showing contemporary photographic art. The Christophe Guye Gallery is a central institution in Zurich for increasing the public awareness of international contemporary photography. In 2021, Christophe Guye was a visiting gallerist at the Teaching and Research Center for the Theory and History of Photography.
  • Hugh Magnum

    Hugh Mangum, [Untitled], ca. 1890–1922, glass plate negative, Hugh Mangum/David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

    Photographs are documents of a moment in time. Despite the progressive segregation in the American South at the turn of the century, a diverse audience frequented the traveling studios organized by the photographer Hugh Mangum. Collections such as that held by Duke University are concerned with archiving, conserving, and restoring photographs.
  • Talbot

    William Henry Fox Talbot, Mer de Glace from Montanvert, 1852, photogravure, 6.9 x 6.7 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

    One of the first photographic explorations of the Alpine region, made with an early reproduction technique of photography: photogravure.

  • Docks Collective_Flut

    Photograph of flood disaster in Erftstadt-Blessem, 16 July 2021, © DOCKS-Collective

    It is impossible to communicate the consequences of the climate crisis without images—one important function of press photography.

  • Postkarte

    Soerabaja, Chineesche Kerk, ed. by H. van Ingen, postcard (front side), halftone print, ca. 1920, collection Sophie Junge

    Around 1900, photographs on postcards traveled around the globe. This photograph shows the Indonesian city of Surabaya, which was part of the Dutch colonial empire. Such colonial picture postcards gave European recipients an idea of these faraway places and legitimized colonial foreign rule with their supposedly peaceful images.

Photographic images circulate globally now more than ever. They are found in analog and digital form, depicting artistic, scientific, and historical objects and situations, from outer and inner worlds. The visual medium of photography shapes our perception of people and history, of culture, politics, and economics.

The Continuing Education Program in the Theory and History of Photography is designed to offer foundational knowledge of this medium to a broad professional audience. We bring core expertise in the methods and objects of art history to a wider educational horizon focused on the history and theory of photography in an interdisciplinary context. Drawing from more than ten years of insight, research, and experience built up by the program of international teaching and research on the theory and history of photography at the University of Zurich, we furnish program participants with knowledge in the following areas:
– The theory and global history of photography as a medium in both its analog and digital forms
– Photography in its scientific, aesthetic, and art historical contexts 
– Artistic, political, and not least ethical engagement with photographs


Hosted by
The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Zurich
Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel, Institute of Art History, University of Zurich
Steering Committee
Prof. Dr. Bettina Gockel, Institute of Art History, University of Zurich
Prof. Andrés Mario Zervigón, Department of Art History, Rutgers University, New Jersey

Contents and Learning Objectives
Course Structure and Dates
Target Groups
Team and Teaching Faculty

Weiterführende Informationen


Nadine Jirka, MA
Universität Zürich
Kunsthistorisches Institut
Rämistrasse 73
8006 Zürich
Phone: +41 (0)79 515 57 68

Current News

Registration for the class of 2023/2024 is now open until the 30th of June 2023. Please follow this link for information on the registration process.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by e-mail or phone.


Information Events

We now offer on-site information events at the Art History Institute of the University of Zurich. You can find us at Rämistrasse 73, 8006 Zurich, in room 208 (2nd floor, after the stairs to the right) on the following dates:

Friday, June 2, 2023, 6:30-7:30 p.m. – cancelled!

Monday, June 12, 2023, 6.30-7.30 p.m.

Registration by mail ( would be appreciated.

Learn more about our program and join one of our digital information events via Zoom:

Wednesday, June 14, 2023, 7-8 p.m.

Register here to recieve the link.

Individual Consultation

We offer personal advising sessions to provide information about the program. Please contact us by e-mail to schedule an individual appointment.