Old Fields: Photography, Glamour, and Fantasy Landscape [NOOK Book]


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.

InOld Fields, John
Stilgoe—one of the most original ...

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Old Fields: Photography, Glamour, and Fantasy Landscape

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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.

InOld 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

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.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
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
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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813935164
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 536
  • File size: 3 MB

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 (allVirginia), and Outside Lies Magic.

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Interviews & Essays


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