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The wordless doctoral dissertation: photography as scholarship

In 1979, a unique and revolutionary event occurred in France. PhotographerLucien Clergue was granted a Ph.D. (cum laude ) solely on the basis of hiscollection of photographs entitled Langage des Sables (Language of the Sands).Directed by premier French philosopher and author Roland Barthes—one of thefounders of semiology—the dissertation is an example of the scholarly value ofcreative photographic work. This paper discusses the dissertation’s intrinsicworth from the semiological, mythological-poetic, and photographic perspectives.Selected images from the dissertation accompany the article.

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