Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography / Edition 1

Paperback (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.68
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 90%)
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (20) from $4.68   
  • New (6) from $37.36   
  • Used (14) from $4.68   


Photography's great success gives the impression that the major questions that have haunted the medium are now resolved. On the contrary - the most important questions about photography are just beginning to be asked. These fourteen essays,with over 200 illustrations, critically examine prevailing beliefs about the medium and suggest new ways to explain the history of photography. They are organized around the questions: What are the social consequences of aesthetic practice? How does photography construct sexual difference? How is photography used to promote class and national interests? What are the politics of photographic truth? The Contest of Meaning summarizes the challenges to traditional photographic history that have developed in the last decade out of a consciously political critique of photographic production. Contributions by a wide range of important Americans critics reexamine the complex - and often contradictory - roles of photography within society. Douglas Crimp, Christopher Phillips, Benjamin Buchloh, and Abigail Solomon Godeau examine the gradually developed exclusivity of art photography and describe the politics of canon formation throughout modernism.

Catherine Lord, Deborah Bright, Sally Stein, and Jan Zita Grover examine the ways in which the female is configured as a subject, and explain how sexual difference is constructed across various registers of photographic representation. Carol Squiers,Esther Parada, and Richard Bolton clarify the ways in which photography serves as a form of mass communication, demonstrating in particular how photographic production is affected by the interests of the powerful patrons of communications. The three concluding essays, by Rosalind Krauss, Martha Rosler, and Allan Sekula, critically examine the concept of photographic truth by exploring the intentions informing various uses of "objective" images within society. Richard Bolton is an artist and writer who has exhibited and published widely. He has taught in the Visible Language Workshop at MIT's Media Laboratory and at the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

An alternative history of photography, based on a critique of traditional, formalist photographic history and practice. Illustrated with some 200 b&w photographs, these essays explore the politics of representation, production, and promotion, with attention devoted equally to commercial, documentary, and art photography. Serious--not a coffee-table collection. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780262521697
  • Publisher: MIT Press
  • Publication date: 2/25/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 427
  • Sales rank: 1,107,341
  • Product dimensions: 8.25 (w) x 10.75 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven J. Luck is is Professor of Psychology and a core member of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis.

George R. Mangun is Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Davis.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography

Richard Bolton
What are the social consequences of aesthetic practice?
The Museum's Old/The Library's New Subject
Douglas Crimp
The Judgment Seat of Photography
Christopher Phillips
From Faktura to Factography
Benjamin H.D. Buchloh
The Armed Vision Disarmed: Radical Formalism from Weapon to

Abigail Solomon-Godeau
How does photography construct difference?
What Becomes a Legend Most: The Short, Sad Career of Diane

Catherine Lord
Of Mother Nature and Marlboro Men: An Inquiry into the Cultural
Meanings of Landscape Photography

Deborah Bright
The Graphic Ordering of Desire: Modernization of a Middle-Class
Women's Magazine, 1914-39

Sally Stein
Dykes in Context: Some Problems in Minority Representation
Jan Zita Grover
How is photography used to promote class and national
The Corporate Year in Pictures
Carol Squires
C/Overt Ideology: Two Images of Revolution
Esther Parada
In the American East: Richard Avedon Incorporated
Richard Bolton
What are the politics of photographic truth?
Photography's Discursive Spaces
Rosalind Krauss
in, around, and afterthoughts (on documentary photography)
Martha Rosler
The Body and the Archive
Allan Sekula
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)