Old Fields: Photography, Glamour, and Fantasy Landscape

Old Fields: Photography, Glamour, and Fantasy Landscape

by John R. Stilgoe
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

Glamour subverts convention. Models, images, and even landscapes can skew ordinary ways of seeing when viewed through the lens of photography, suggesting new worlds imbued with fantasy, mystery, sexuality, and tension.

In Old Fields, John Stilgoe—one of the most original observers of his time—offers a poetic and controversial exploration of the

Overview

Glamour subverts convention. Models, images, and even landscapes can skew ordinary ways of seeing when viewed through the lens of photography, suggesting new worlds imbued with fantasy, mystery, sexuality, and tension.

In Old Fields, John Stilgoe—one of the most original observers of his time—offers a poetic and controversial exploration of the generations-long effort to portray glamour. Fusing three forces in contemporary American culture—amateur photography after 1880; the rise of glamour and fantasy; and the often-mysterious quality of landscape photographs—Stilgoe provides a wide-ranging yet concentrated take on the cultural legacy of our photographic history.

Through the medium of "shop theory"—the techniques, tools, and purpose-made equipment a maker uses to realize intent—Stilgoe looks at the role of Eastman Kodak in shaping the ways photographers purchased cameras and films, while also mapping the divisions that were created by European-made cameras. He then goes on to argue that with the proliferation of digital cameras, smart phones, and Instagram, young people’s lack of knowledge about photographic technique is in direct correlation to their lack of knowledge of the history of glamour photography.

In his exploration of the rise of glamour and fantasy in contemporary American culture, Stilgoe offers a provocative and very personal look into his enduring fascination with, and the possibilities inherent in, creating one’s own images.

Editorial Reviews

Chip Sullivan
Old Fields provides a unique, original, and provocative perspective on how our culture observes, interprets, and represents the visual world. Stilgoe, a leading academic in his field, traces the evolution of photography, focusing on the quality of images and how people learn to look at and record their environment through taking pictures. The book is a gem of visual knowledge covering a wide range of fascinating topics such as glamour, magic, mystery, science, and alchemy.

Jack Williams
Old Fields is an evocative metaphor for now-forgotten pasts and for rediscovered histories in hidden corners of our literature and landscapes. A fascinating and highly original study.

Library Journal
03/01/2014
Landscape historian Stilgoe (visual & environmental studies, Harvard Univ.; Train Time: Railroads and the Imminent Reshaping of the United States Landscape) here presents an academically in-depth but uniquely personal view of the history of photography as it pertains to the genres of landscape and "glamour." This eclectic but fascinating volume masterfully draws from such seemingly disparate sources as women's magazines, American Southern gothic landscape photography, fantasy literature, and the technical implications of the medium-format camera. Stilgoe's passion for photography emerges on every page—along with anecdotes, memories, and detailed footnotes. Although the book is short on illustrations, Stilgoe's writing is precise, thorough, and interesting. With encyclopedic accuracy, the author references specific artists and images and supplies a hefty bibliography. Drawing on both experience and extensive archival sources, Stilgoe evaluates and theorizes on the significance of the idea of glamour in the context of landscape. His hope is that ideal beauty and natural simplicity still exist, regardless of the massive paradigm shifts within photography. VERDICT A quality work for scholars of photo history and those interested in the changing landscape of rural America.—Shauna Frischkorn, Millersville Univ., PA

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780813935157
Publisher:
University of Virginia Press
Publication date:
03/04/2014
Pages:
536
Sales rank:
1,274,017
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.40(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

John R. Stilgoe is Orchard Professor in the History of Landscape at Harvard University and the author of Lifeboat, Landscape and Images, Train Time (all Virginia), and Outside Lies Magic.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >