Picturing the Past

Picturing the Past : Media, History and Photography

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This wide-ranging collection explores the relations between photo-journalism and history, investigating how photographs shape both, what we remember and how we remember. Contributors discuss dramatic changes in the press's coverage of presidential death from McKinley through Kennedy and examine the selective use of picture postcards in World War I to support the particular image of the war effort that the government wished to cultivate. Other essays examine divergent public reactions to Edward Steichen's "Family of Man" exhibition and the curious distillation of enormous collections of war photographs-from the Civil War, the Holocaust, and other cataclysmic events-into a handful of images that have become cultural icons. Ranging from the rise of photo-journalism in the 1930s and its idealization of American life to the issue of authenticity in documentary photography, "Picturing the Past" provides valuable insight into how photographs influence collective memory, generate a sense of national community, and reinforce prevailing social, cultural, and political values.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 280 pages
  • 152.4 x 223.52 x 15.24mm | 272.15g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 025206769X
  • 9780252067693
  • 2,001,217

Back cover copy

This wide-ranging collection explores the relations between photojournalism and history, investigating how photographs shape both what we remember and how we remember. Contributors discuss dramatic changes in the press's coverage of presidential death from McKinley through Kennedy and examine the selective use of picture postcards in World War I to support the particular image of the war effort that the government wished to cultivate. Other essays examine divergent public reactions to Edward Steichen's Family of Man exhibition and the curious distillation of enormous collections of war photographs -- from the Civil War, the Holocaust, and other cataclysmic events -- into a handful of images that have become cultural icons.Ranging from the rise of photojournalism in the 1930s and its idealization of American life to the issue of authenticity in documentary photography, Picturing the Past provides valuable insight into how photographs influence collective memory, generate a sense of national community, and reinforce prevailing social, cultural, and political values.show more

Review quote

"Demonstrates a substantial range in the assumptions and techniques that have generated knowledge about the importance of the visual image in modern media." -- Ronald E. Ostman, Journal of Communication "Offers plenty of provocation for discussion and research topics in popular culture, and also shows that one picture may not so much be worth a thousand words, as require a thousand or more to explain fully." -- Frank Oglesbee, H-PCAACA (H-Net Reviews) "A good reference... This volume focuses on photographs in the twentieth century and considers their roles as part of forming collective memory, journalistic devices, and historical evidence. Essays examine the use of photographs in newspapers, advertising, war, and exhibitions - all stressing the importance of photographs' contexts for understanding their meaning and enable their use." - Richard Cox, Records and Information Management Report "A remarkable collection of pieces that tackle the role of photography, and in particular news photography, in history... A powerful book. By placing photography in the context of history and culture, the editors make a statement about the importance of understanding the image beyond the lens." -- Paul E. Kostyu, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly "This excellent collection of ten original essays should be required reading for anyone who studies history after the 1830s... [This volume] addresses such broad issues as the uses of photographs variously as evidence, symbol, and myth, the questions of objectivity and context in photographic representation, and the motivations for and effects of recycling images for current and historical purposes." -- Erika Gottfried, The Public Historian ADVANCE PRAISE "This volume expertly draws together many different perspectives to construct the visual environment in which the photographer/journalist's cultural work is done. These thoroughly researched essays offer sophisticated contact points with wider realms of scholarship. Varying in viewpoint and scope of analysis, they enlist students of visual culture and communication in the common enterprise of viewing representations of the past."-Eric Sandeen, author of Picturing an Exhibition: The Family of Man and 1950s America "A fine addition to the literature in visual communication, media and cultural history, critical theory, qualitative methodology, and historiography... We definitely need more of this sort of work."-Charles Lewis, Mankato State Universityshow more

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