Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity

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9780822350859: Pictures and Progress: Early Photography and the Making of African American Identity
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Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography's power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or "snapshots," highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.

Contributors. Michael A. Chaney, Cheryl Finley, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ginger Hill, Leigh Raiford, Augusta Rohrbach, Ray Sapirstein, Suzanne N. Schneider, Shawn Michelle Smith, Laura Wexler, Maurice O. Wallace

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About the Author:

Maurice O. Wallace is Associate Professor of English and African & African American Studies at Duke University. He is the author of Constructing the Black Masculine: Identity and Ideality in African American Men's Literature and Culture, 1775–1995, also published by Duke University Press.

Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of Photography on the Color Line: W. E. B. Du Bois, Race, and Visual Culture, also published by Duke University Press, and American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture. Smith is coauthor (with Dora Apel) of Lynching Photographs.

Review:

“I recommend Pictures and Progress for anyone who enjoys reading about the history of photography, African American history, or those who like to consider new ideas about photography as an art form. . . . [O]riginality, fresh ideas and a good pace of content make Pictures and Progress an excellent read.” - Mary Desjarlais, The Photogram

“Pictures and Progress is an edited volume of essays that underscores the role of photography in the production of African American identity during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.... Its contributors are skillful scholars from diverse fields who employ a variety of critical practices to call attention to the cultural, social, and political aspects of early African American photography. These authors seek to disrupt the familiarity of photographs – more a means of persuasion than of proof – and emphasize the plurality of photographic practice during the ante- and postbellum periods.... Pictures and Progress is certainly recommended for art libraries that specialize in the history of photography or visual and material culture studies.” - Molly E. Dotson, Art Library Society of North America

“With its emphasis on the often radical roles that black sitters and makers assumed in the history of photography, Pictures and Progress offers a bold approach to the study of American visual culture, one that places black agency at its center. Its intriguing and persuasive essays elucidate the importance of photography to the creation of free, black personhood in the 19th and early-20th centuries and reveal the myriad and sometimes surprising ways that such hands sought to wield “the pencil of nature” in an effort to assert self-possessed, and therefore revolutionary, subjectivities during an era in which the dominant culture preferred to represent them as otherwise.”—Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, author of Portraits of a People: Picturing African Americans in the Nineteenth Century

“Pictures and Progress offers a new understanding of visual representations of black Americans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through its compelling essays, this work reframes the archive of images of death, beauty, and suffering of black subjects in photography.”—Deborah Willis, New York University

“I recommend Pictures and Progress for anyone who enjoys reading about the history of photography, African American history, or those who like to consider new ideas about photography as an art form. . . . [O]riginality, fresh ideas and a good pace of content make Pictures and Progress an excellent read.” (Mary Desjarlais The Photogram)

“[A] nuanced collection of essays. . . . that makes a significant contribution to our understanding of African Americans’ uses of photography in public dialogue by and about African Americans in the postemancipation era.” (Tammy S. Gordon History: Reviews of New Books)

Pictures and Progress is a welcome addition to the growing scholarship on African American photography.  The contributors have painstakingly revisited a moment in time when African Americans considered still-photography liberating.” (Christopher P. Lehman Biography)

“[T]his volume... will appeal equally to historians of photography and of the United States.  Together, the essays in this book emphasize the act of thoughtful, visual scrutiny coupled with the desire to use photographs to make sense of a past that has often been overlooked.” (Jasmine Alinder Journal of Southern History)

"[A] novel and often revelatory study of photography and black agency that will quickly become a foundational volume for scholars of U.S. photographic history."  (Martin A. Berger Journal of American History)

“All the contributions leave readers with ideas worth mulling over and researching further.... Highly recommended.” (C. Chiarenza Choice)

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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography s power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or snapshots, highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.Contributors. Michael A. Chaney, Cheryl Finley, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ginger Hill, Leigh Raiford, Augusta Rohrbach, Ray Sapirstein, Suzanne N. Schneider, Shawn Michelle Smith, Laura Wexler, Maurice O. Wallace. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780822350859

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Book Description Duke University Press, United States, 2012. Paperback. Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. Pictures and Progress explores how, during the nineteenth century and the early twentieth, prominent African American intellectuals and activists understood photography s power to shape perceptions about race and employed the new medium in their quest for social and political justice. They sought both to counter widely circulating racist imagery and to use self-representation as a means of empowerment. In this collection of essays, scholars from various disciplines consider figures including Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important and innovative theorists and practitioners of photography. In addition, brief interpretive essays, or snapshots, highlight and analyze the work of four early African American photographers. Featuring more than seventy images, Pictures and Progress brings to light the wide-ranging practices of early African American photography, as well as the effects of photography on racialized thinking.Contributors. Michael A. Chaney, Cheryl Finley, P. Gabrielle Foreman, Ginger Hill, Leigh Raiford, Augusta Rohrbach, Ray Sapirstein, Suzanne N. Schneider, Shawn Michelle Smith, Laura Wexler, Maurice O. Wallace. Seller Inventory # AAJ9780822350859

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