Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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Contents

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pp. vii-x

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xii

We thank our contributors for bringing their expertise and creativity to this project and for sharing their vital commitments to the subject of documentary with such openness and flair. From the first, we conceived this book as a conversation—one that is ongoing—and we are grateful to our contributors for taking up the spirit of collaboration and improvisation ...

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Introduction

Sara Blair, Joseph B. Entin, Franny Nudelman

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pp. 1-13

During the post–World War II period, a wide range of practitioners remade documentary expression in an effort to respond to a contemporary landscape that was, in the moment of its unfolding, both urgent and bewildering. Confronting in turn the atrocities of World War II, the social rebellions of the 1960s, and the inequalities of globalization, ...

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Let There Be Light and the Military Talking Picture

Jonathan Kahana, Noah Tsika

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pp. 14-34

We expect a documentary interview, whether on film, television, or radio, to “coax people into revelations, showing unexpected intimacies, and particularly revealing moments where people are caught unawares,” as John Ellis writes.1 The interview and the confessional speech it fosters have become ubiquitous devices of ordinary social history and biography, ...

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Death in Life: Documenting Survival after Hiroshima

Franny Nudelman

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pp. 35-54

Writing in politics in 1946, Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy delivered a scathing critique of John Hersey’s recently published Hiroshima— a one-two punch, with Macdonald taking Hersey to task for what he did and McCarthy calling him out for what he failed to do. Together they set the terms for the often heated debate over Hersey’s book and, implicitly, ...

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I Saw It!: The Photographic Witness of Barefoot Gen

Laura Wexler

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pp. 55-82

If trauma, by definition, is repressed experience and therefore constitutive but difficult to document, by how much does the difficulty of documentation increase when government censorship ferociously bars access to that experience? If the infamous gap between living and knowing that marks the site of any subject’s own traumatic narrative is also legally enforced, ...

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Speculative Ecology: Rachel Carson’s Environmentalist Documentaries

Daniel Worden

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pp. 83-98

Rachel Carson’s work of literary nonfiction Silent Spring (1962) is often celebrated for its legislative effect. Carson’s book documenting the harmful effects of DDT and other pesticides, it is noted frequently, was central to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency, by executive order of Richard Nixon in 1970, and the nationwide ban on the use of DDT in 1972. ...

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Participatory Documentary: Recording the Sound of Equality in the Southern Civil Rights Movement

Grace Elizabeth Hale

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pp. 99-119

In a mass meeting in Albany, Georgia, in 1962, the sounds of a church packed with people fill in around the edges of the voice of the minister. Point by point, the Reverend Ben Gay lists and boldly rejects the issues raised in the Albany City Commission’s report. Anger strains at his voice as he starts out loud and builds in volume. Audience members breathe and shuffle in their seats and increasingly sound their assent. ...

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After the Fact: Postwar Dissent and the Art of Documentary

Sara Blair

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pp. 120-150

Accounting for the career of postwar photography, received histories have emphasized a decisive turn against documentary image-making. In the two decades following World War II, they agree, photo practitioners made a critical break with documentary practice, leaving behind what came to be seen as its “often naïve—or at least oversimplified—belief in the medium as an instrument for social change.”1 ...

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Working Photography: Labor Documentary and Documentary Labor in the Neoliberal Age

Joseph B. Entin

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pp. 151-171

This essay examines work by two documentary labor photographers, Milton Rogovin and Allan Sekula, who for some good reasons are rarely placed side by side. Rogovin was an optometrist-turned-documentarian who came of age in the 1930s, and his photographic series of steel workers, Working People (1976–87), follows in the tradition of Lewis Hine and Dorothea Lange. ...

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Counterdocuments: Undocumented Youth Activists, Documentary Media, and the Politics of Visibility

Rebecca M. Schreiber

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pp. 172-191

In the 2010s, undocumented youth activists have forged a politics premised on reconfiguring self-representation and visibility.1 During a time in which they began to lead their own organizations and focus on mobilizing other undocumented youth, these activists also used documentary forms to represent themselves in ways that defied the machinations of the U.S. state. ...

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At Berkeley: Documenting the University in an Age of Austerity

Michael Mark Cohen, Leigh Raiford

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pp. 192-209

This essay is an effort to link questions of economic austerity, the crisis in public higher education, and contemporary uses of documentary film and photography. Our subject is a “selfie” of sorts, in that it considers three documentary projects done on and about the university campus upon which we both work, the University of California (UC) at Berkeley. ...

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Afterword

Matthew Frye Jacobson

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pp. 210-218

In the fall of 2015, a colleague and I were co-teaching Introduction to Documentary Studies at Yale when the campus erupted in protest over a spate of racist incidents, including one college administrator’s statement to students in defense of racially insensitive Halloween costumes. The class up to that point had gone pretty much the way college classes do ...

Bibliography

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pp. 219-234

Contributors

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pp. 235-236

Index

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pp. 237-251