The latest volume in the Defining Moments in American Photography series, Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA proposes that we reconsider the work of the Farm Security Administration and its most beloved photographers in light of various forms of trauma in the 1930s. The authors offer new ways to understand this body of work by exploring a more variable idea of documentary photography than what the New Dealers proposed. Taking a critical look at the FSA photography project, they identify its goals, biases, contradictions, and ambivalences, while discerning strikingly independent directions among its photographers. Blair and Rosenberg discuss how, in the hands of socially minded photographers seeking to address and publicize suffering, photography and trauma mixed.
In the volatility of that mixture, they argue, competing ideas for documentary took shape. Among the key figures studied here are some of the most beloved in American photography, including Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Aaron Siskind.
About the Author
Sara Blair is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and author of Henry James and the Writing of Race and Nation (Cambridge, 2009). Eric Rosenberg is Associate Professor of Art and Art History at Tufts University and author of Trauma and Visuality in Modernity (Dartmouth, 2006).
Table of Contents
Introduction Anthony W. Lee
Against Trauma: Documentary and Modern Times on the Lower East Side Sara Blair
With Trauma: Walker Evans and the Failure to Document Eric Rosenberg
What People are Saying About This
"An excellent contribution; moving, considered, articulate and painfully relevant."Metapsychology Online Review
"Farm Security Administration work from the 1930s, so often viewed in political and socioeconomic terms, is here reconsidered in light of new theories on how personal and collective trauma may have affected photographers."Art