Trade paperback, 166 pagesAcquired August 2006
Published 1977 (originally 1972)
Reread April 2015
I've taught this book in my college writing course for freshmen a lot, often chapters out of it, but this semester and last, I decided to go for an all-Berger semester: the book has four prose chapters (there are also three chapters consisting only of images), and I assign four paper projects, so I just based one paper assignment on each chapter, pairing each chapter with an essay by another author on the same topic (e.g., I paired chapter one, about museums, with excerpts from André Malraux's Museum without Walls). I don't know that anyone comes away from the course loving John Berger, but he's a useful author in that context: polemical and wide-ranging, he allows me to give a set of assignments that clearly have common themes, but aren't too repetitive. He also is a good model for academic writing, in how he exposes and reads the details of something to build an argument, one with actual implications. But man, chapter 5 (the one on property in paintings and The Ambassadors) is like, impossible to teach; I've yet to come up with a writing assignment based on it that just doesn't vex my students to no end. Next semester I'll be teaching a different course, but when I come back to freshman writing, I'm sure I'll be coming back to Ways of Seeing, and I'll have to try something different there.