Positive Pleasures: Early Photography and Humor

Overview

In the year that photography was introduced to the world, 1839, a cartoon in a French broadside showed a gallows for the draftsmen and engravers who would be put out of work by the new medium. This was only the beginning of a long tradition of amused, and amusing, depictions of photography, a practice now reviewed in Heinz and Bridget Henisch's new book.

Positive Pleasures explores the humorous commentary about photography that emerged in the medium's first seventy-five years, ...

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1998 Hard cover New in new dust jacket. Sewn binding. Cloth over boards. 232 p. Audience: General/trade. Hardcover dj, new book, excellent condition! b2

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1998 Hardcover New 027101671X. Flawless copy, brand new, pristine, never opened--240 pp. With 263 ills. (13 col. ). 29 x 23 cm.

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Overview

In the year that photography was introduced to the world, 1839, a cartoon in a French broadside showed a gallows for the draftsmen and engravers who would be put out of work by the new medium. This was only the beginning of a long tradition of amused, and amusing, depictions of photography, a practice now reviewed in Heinz and Bridget Henisch's new book.

Positive Pleasures explores the humorous commentary about photography that emerged in the medium's first seventy-five years, providing a panorama of photographic comedy in its many aspects, both pictorial and literary. The Henisches present a wide range of examples found in cartoons, literature, and such facets of popular culture as music, fashion, and advertising. They also discuss examples of photo-humor in the political arena.

Richly illustrated with more than 250 cartoons and photographs from international sources, the book takes readers behind the technical and commercial scenes of a new medium. It covers the period from photography's beginnings to the years following World War I when the popularization of miniature cameras redefined the world of photography—showing how, as the outward appearance of photographic paraphernalia changed, each new generation of cartoonists was provided with new challenges for their satirical skills. It also depicts photographers as humorists in their own right through examples of their amusing interpretations of reality.

Viewed today, these cartoons and anecdotes shed new light on photography's problems and pleasures as seen by society at large and prove that it is not necessary to be a photo-historian in order to appreciate photographic humor. Positive Pleasures firmly establishes photo-humor as an important part of social and visual anthropology and should stimulate new research by social scientists. It will also delight anyone with an interest in social history or the nineteenth-century world, as it deepens our understanding of both photography's impact on society and the impact of fads and fashions on photography itself.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
This study looks at how cartoonists treated the new technology, as well as at how photographers used humor in their pictures, from photography's early years in the 1830s, to the 1920s. Some 250 cartoons and photos illustrate satiric responses to photography as an art form; as gadgetry (or, as we say, "technology"); and as a tool for a variety of purposes<--> conveying truth, enhancing commercial ventures, and exploiting and promoting vanity. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Booknews
This study looks at how cartoonists treated the new technology, as well as at how photographers used humor in their pictures, from photography's early years in the 1830s, to the 1920s. Some 250 cartoons and photos illustrate satiric responses to photography as an art form; as gadgetry (or, as we say, "technology"); and as a tool for a variety of purposes<--> conveying truth, enhancing commercial ventures, and exploiting and promoting vanity. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271016719
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1998
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 232
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Heinz K. Henisch is Emeritus Professor of the History of Photography at Penn State, the founding editor of History of Photography, and a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society of Great Britain.

Bridget A. Henisch is the author of Fast and Feast: Food in Medieval Society (1976). Together they co-authored The Photographic Experience, 1839–1914: Images and Attitudes (1994) and The Painted Photograph, 1839–1914: Origins, Techniques, Aspirations (1996), both from Penn State.

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Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
1 The Camera and the Comic Muse 1
2 Infernal Contraptions 18
3 What is Truth? 41
4 Merry Marketing, Studio Seduction 66
5 Ubiquitous Amateurs: Flirtatious Fringe, Joys of Travel, Photo-Pests 104
6 Exposures in Jest 138
7 Photo-Sarcasm, Photo-Satire 175
8 Photo-Fallout: Publicity, Fashion, Music, Reflections on the Printed Page 197
Index 219
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