The Portrait's Subject reveals the underappreciated connections between portraiture's representations of the material human body and developing modern ideas about the human mind. It encouraged figures like Frederick Douglass, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Thomas Eakins, Harriet Jacobs, and Henry James to reimagine how we might see inner life, offering a rich array of metaphors and aesthetic approaches that helped reconfigure the relationship between body and mind, exterior and interior. In the end, Blackwood shows how nineteenth-century psychological discourse developed as much through aesthetic fabulation as through scientific experimentation.
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This compelling and beautifully written work demonstrates the interdependence of technology, aesthetics, and conceptual subject formation and its legacy for the contemporary moment.Priscilla Wald, Duke University
A fascinating and original study. Blackwood reconceives nineteenth-century portraiture as a method, not a genre, and specifically as a method through which understandings of self come into focus.Shawn Michelle Smith, School of the Art Institute of Chicago