Feeling Photography

Duke University Press
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This innovative collection demonstrates the profound effects of feeling on our experiences and understanding of photography. It includes essays on the tactile nature of photos, the relation of photography to sentiment and intimacy, and the ways that affect pervades the photographic archive. Concerns associated with the affective turn—intimacy, alterity, and ephemerality, as well as queerness, modernity, and loss—run through the essays. At the same time, the contributions are informed by developments in critical race theory, postcolonial studies, and feminist theory. As the contributors bring affect theory to bear on photography, some interpret the work of contemporary artists, such as Catherine Opie, Tammy Rae Carland, Christian Boltanski, Marcelo Brodsky, Zoe Leonard, and Rea Tajiri. Others look back, whether to the work of the American Pictorialist F. Holland Day or to the discontent masked by the smiles of black families posing for cartes de visite in a Kodak marketing campaign. With more than sixty photographs, including twenty in color, this collection changes how we see, think about, and feel photography, past and present.

Contributors. Elizabeth Abel, Elspeth H. Brown, Kimberly Juanita Brown, Lisa Cartwright, Lily Cho, Ann Cvetkovich, David L. Eng, Marianne Hirsch, Thy Phu, Christopher Pinney, Marlis Schweitzer, Dana Seitler, Tanya Sheehan, Shawn Michelle Smith, Leo Spitzer, Diana Taylor
 
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About the author

Elspeth H. Brown is Associate Professor of History at the University of Toronto. She is the author of The Corporate Eye: Photography and the Rationalization of American Commercial Culture, 1884–1929.

Thy Phu is Associate Professor of English at Western University in London, Ontario. She is the author of Picturing Model Citizens: Civility in Asian American Visual Culture.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Mar 12, 2014
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Pages
408
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ISBN
9780822377313
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Language
English
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Genres
Photography / Criticism
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / General
Social Science / LGBT Studies / Gay Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Photography can seem to capture reality and the eye like no other medium, commanding belief and wielding the power of proof. In some cases, a photograph itself is attributed the force of the real. How can a piece of chemically discolored paper have such potency? How does the meaning of a photograph become fixed? In The Disciplinary Frame, John Tagg claims that, to answer these questions, we must look at the ways in which all that frames photography—the discourse that surrounds it and the institutions that circulate it— determines what counts as truth.

The meaning and power of photographs, Tagg asserts, are discursive effects of the regimens that produce them as official record, documentary image, historical evidence, or art. Teasing out the historical processes involved, he examines a series of revealing case studies from nineteenth-century European and American photographs to Depression-era works by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, and Margaret Bourke-White to the conceptualist photography of John Baldessari.

Central to this transformative work are questions of cultural strategy, the growth of the state, and broad issues of power and representation: how the discipline of the frame holds both photographic image and viewer in place, without erasing the possibility for evading, and even resisting, capture. Photographs, Tagg ultimately finds, are at once too big and too small for the frames in which they are enclosed—always saying more than is wanted and less than is desired.
Photography is one of the principal filters through which we engage the world. The contributors to this volume focus on Walter Benjamin's concept of the optical unconscious to investigate how photography has shaped history, modernity, perception, lived experience, politics, race, and human agency. In essays that range from examinations of Benjamin's and Sigmund Freud's writings to the work of Kara Walker and Roland Barthes's famous Winter Garden photograph, the contributors explore what photography can teach us about the nature of the unconscious. They attend to side perceptions, develop latent images, discover things hidden in plain sight, focus on the disavowed, and perceive the slow. Of particular note are the ways race and colonialism have informed photography from its beginning. The volume also contains photographic portfolios by Zoe Leonard, Kelly Wood, and Kristan Horton, whose work speaks to the optical unconscious while demonstrating how photographs communicate on their own terms. The essays and portfolios in Photography and the Optical Unconscious create a collective and sustained assessment of Benjamin's influential concept, opening up new avenues for thinking about photography and the human psyche.

Contributors. Mary Bergstein, Jonathan Fardy, Kristan Horton, Terri Kapsalis, Sarah Kofman, Elisabeth Lebovici, Zoe Leonard, Gabrielle Moser, Mignon Nixon, Thy Phu, Mark Reinhardt, Shawn Michelle Smith, Sharon Sliwinski, Laura Wexler, Kelly Wood, Andrés Mario Zervigón
In The Feeling of Kinship, David L. Eng investigates the emergence of “queer liberalism”—the empowerment of certain gays and lesbians in the United States, economically through an increasingly visible and mass-mediated queer consumer lifestyle, and politically through the legal protection of rights to privacy and intimacy. Eng argues that in our “colorblind” age the emergence of queer liberalism is a particular incarnation of liberal freedom and progress, one constituted by both the racialization of intimacy and the forgetting of race. Through a startling reading of Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark legal decision overturning Texas’s antisodomy statute, Eng reveals how the ghosts of miscegenation haunt both Lawrence and the advent of queer liberalism.

Eng develops the concept of “queer diasporas” as a critical response to queer liberalism. A methodology drawing attention to new forms of family and kinship, accounts of subjects and subjectivities, and relations of affect and desire, the concept differs from the traditional notions of diaspora, theories of the nation-state, and principles of neoliberal capitalism upon which queer liberalism thrives. Eng analyzes films, documentaries, and literature by Asian and Asian American artists including Wong Kar-wai, Monique Truong, Deann Borshay Liem, and Rea Tajiri, as well as a psychoanalytic case history of a transnational adoptee from Korea. In so doing, he demonstrates how queer Asian migrant labor, transnational adoption from Asia, and the political and psychic legacies of Japanese internment underwrite narratives of racial forgetting and queer freedom in the present. A focus on queer diasporas also highlights the need for a poststructuralist account of family and kinship, one offering psychic alternatives to Oedipal paradigms. The Feeling of Kinship makes a major contribution to American studies, Asian American studies, diaspora studies, psychoanalysis, and queer theory.

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