Looking for America: The Visual Production of Nation and People / Edition 1

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"This collection explores the role of the "visual" in shaping American identity. Introducing students to the visual in all its complexity and variety on the American scene - the language of signs; the historical construction and meaning of "types;" and the uses and politics of photography, film, bodily display, and documentaries - the volume underscores the productivity of the visual in thinking about race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and regionality. It clearly demonstrates that the ways in which people see and are seen determine who they are and how they see themselves as citizens and Americans." An editorial introduction places the articles within a narrative structure that tells a collective tale of how this experiment called "America" took on visual shape and meaning. Suggested readings, a primer on how to "read" an image, and a listing of visual archives and collections complete the volume, making this an indispensable text for those in American studies and related fields.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“This collection is an invigorating, even stunning, revelation. I left it feeling as if I had learned a new language. Congratulations to Ardis Cameron for the creative insight with which she has woven together an argument for the indispensable value of ‘looking’ into the past.” Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University

“This book illuminates the role of the visual in constructions of American national identity. Most impressive is the demonstration that vision itself is not transparent, but an instrument that shapes, even as it is shaped by, relations of power.” Joan W. Scott, Institute for Advanced Study

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405114660
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/24/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 408
  • Product dimensions: 6.05 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

Ardis Cameron is Professor of American and New England Studies, University of Southern Maine. She is author of Radicals of the Worst Sort: The Laboring of Lawrence, 1860–1912 (1993). She received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship for her work in progress, Tales of Peyton Place: The Biography of a Big Book.

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Table of Contents


Introduction (Ardis Cameron).

Suggested Readings.

PART I: 1860-1900.

Modern Types.

1. Sleuthing Towards America: Visual Detection in Everyday Life (Ardis Cameron).

2. Cartes de Visite Portrait Photographs and the Culture of Class Formation (Andrea L. Volpe).

Suggested Readings.

PART II: 1900-1940.

The Embodied Nation: Race, Gender, and the Politics of the Camera.

3. Photographing the "American Negro": Nation, Race, and Photography at the Paris Exposition of 1900 (Shawn Michelle Smith).

4. Techniques of the Imaginary Nation: Engendering Family Photography (Laura Wexler).

"The Eye of Power": Cross-Class Looking.

5. Private Eyes, Public Women: Images of Class and Sex in the Urban South, Atlanta, Georgia, 1913-1915 (Jacquelyn Dowd Hall).

6. Margaret Bourke-White’s Red Coat; or, Slumming in the Thirties (Paula Rabinowitz).

Suggested Readings.

PART III: 1940-2000.

Home and Nation: Imaging the "All-American" Family.

7. "The Kind of People Who Make Good Americans": Nationalism and Life’s Family Ideal (Wendy Kozol).

8. Visua Culture and Working-Class Community: Photography and the Organizing of the Steelworkers’ Union in Chicago (Larry Peterson).

9. Sit-coms and Suburbs: Positioning the 1950s Homemaker (Mary Beth Haralovich).

The Eye of Difference: The Politics of Appearance.

10. The Zoot-Suit and Style Warfare (Stuart Cosgrove).

11. Looking Jewish, Seeing Jews (Matthew Frye Jacobson).

Troubling Sights (Sites): Visual Maps and America’s "Others".

12. The Photograph as an Intersection of Gazes (Catherine A. Lutz and Jane L. Collins).

13. When Strangers Bring Cameras: The Poetics and Politics of Othered Places (Ardis Cameron).

Suggested Readings.

Appendix A: "Reading the Visual Record" (Elspeth H. Brown).

Appendix B: List of Visual Archives (Ardis Cameron).


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