Picturing the Maghreb: Literature, Photography, (RE)Presentation

Overview

Among the visual media, photography is one of the most powerful means of representation because of its immediacy and its supposed objectivity: photography has been popularly accepted as an accurate reflection of what is real. Contemporary thinkers, however, are questioning these assumptions, looking at the vocabulary of possession and aggression photographers use in "taking" a picture—"load," "aim," "shoot"—and investigating the implications of such vocabulary especially on Western notions of non-Western ...

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Overview

Among the visual media, photography is one of the most powerful means of representation because of its immediacy and its supposed objectivity: photography has been popularly accepted as an accurate reflection of what is real. Contemporary thinkers, however, are questioning these assumptions, looking at the vocabulary of possession and aggression photographers use in "taking" a picture—"load," "aim," "shoot"—and investigating the implications of such vocabulary especially on Western notions of non-Western cultures. Some of today's most prominent French writers, acutely aware of this crisis of representation and suspicion of the image, have used photography in their fiction to examine the problematic issues of identity, marginality, alienation, and exile in contemporary France and postcolonial North Africa. Picturing the Maghreb is a unique project that investigates how North Africans have been represented in photographs and portrayed in literary texts. Probing a variety of images—colonial and contemporary, negative and positive, demonizing and idealizing, French and North African—Mary B. Vogl displays the enormous power photography and writing have to stereotype and essentialize. In this singular and significant contribution to cultural studies, she explores the possibilities for nonexploitative cross-cultural discourse in a globalized world.

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Editorial Reviews

Research In African Literatures
Picturing the Maghreb is a very well-grounded literary study of contemporary French and North African writers that analyzes the use and impact of photography in their novels set in the Maghreb.
Valérie Orlando
Mary Vogl's premise—that photography serves as a springboard for investigating broader questions of representation in the Francophone literary domain—is highly original. Her work adds a significant visual dimension to Francophone scholarship.
Jarrod Hayes
Although there has been some writing on how Maghrebians have been represented by French photographers, Vogl brings to light for the first time in French cultural studies the study of how Maghrebians respond . . . with their own self-representations from behind the camera. . . . Not only does focusing on the question of pictorial representation serve as the catalyst for interesting new readings of familiar texts, but the photographs themselves tell their own narrative, which becomes more and more compelling as it embraces Maghrebian photographers in the later chapters. Picturing the Maghreb makes a unique and exciting contribution to Maghrebian studies, and to the field of French postcolonial studies in general.
Research in African Literatures
Picturing the Maghreb is a very well-grounded literary study of contemporary French and North African writers that analyzes the use and impact of photography in their novels set in the Maghreb.
Etudes Francophones
An important contribution.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Mary B. Vogl is assistant professor of French at Colorado State University.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction: In Search of Images 1
Ch. 1 The Evil Demon of Images 15
Ch. 2 Insight, Out of Sight 63
Ch. 3 Looking through the Lens 93
Ch. 4 Retouches and Reprints 141
Postscript 195
Bibliography 201
Photo Credits 215
Index 219
About the Author 227
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