Victorian Negatives: Literary Culture and the Dark Side of Photography in the Nineteenth Century

SUNY Press
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Argues that the photographic negative gives a new way of understanding Victorian debates surrounding origins and copies as well as reality and representation.


Victorian Negatives examines the intersection between Victorian photography and literary culture, and argues that the development of the photographic negative played an instrumental role in their confluence. The negative is a technology that facilitates photographic reproduction by way of image inversion, and Susan E. Cook argues that this particular photographic technology influenced the British realist novel and literary celebrity culture, as authors grappled with the technology of inversion and reproduction in their lives and works. The book analyzes literary works by Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle, E. W. Hornung, Cyril Bennett, Robert Louis Stevenson, Oscar Wilde, Thomas Hardy, and Bram Stoker, and puts readings of those works into conversations with distinct photographic forms, including the daguerreotype, solarization, forensic photography, common cabinet cards, double exposures, and postmortem portraiture. In addition to literary texts, the book analyzes photographic discourses from letters and public writings of photographers and the nineteenth-century press, as well as discussions and debates surrounding Victorian celebrity authorship. The book’s focus on the negative both illuminates an oft-marginalized part of the history of photography and demonstrates the way in which this history is central to Victorian literary culture.


“This is a fascinating and extremely specific discussion of the ways in which photography, more precisely negative technology, was ‘culturally embedded’ in the Victorian era. It is this precision that makes the book most compelling; as Cook herself notes, most literary scholars treat photography as a monolithic whole, but she offers a welcome specificity.” — Antonia Losano, author of The Victorian Painter in Victorian Literature

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About the author

Susan E. Cook is Associate Professor of English at Southern New Hampshire University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Aug 2, 2019
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Pages
218
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ISBN
9781438475387
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Language
English
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Genres
Literary Criticism / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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