On Writing with Photography
Publication Year: 2013
From James Agee to W. G. Sebald, there has been an explosion of modern documentary narratives and fiction combining text and photography in complex and fascinating ways. However, these contemporary experiments are part of a tradition that stretches back to the early years of photography. Writers have been integrating photographs into their work for as long as photographs have existed, producing rich, multilayered creations; and photographers have always made images that incorporate, respond to, or function as writing. On Writing with Photography explores what happens to texts—and images—when they are brought together.
From the mid-nineteenth century to the present, this collection addresses a wide range of genres and media, including graphic novels, children’s books, photo-essays, films, diaries, newspapers, and art installations. Examining the works of Herman Melville, Don DeLillo, Claude McKay, Man Ray, Dare Wright, Guy Debord, Zhang Ailing, and Roland Barthes, among others, the essays trace the relationship between photographs and “reality” and describe the imaginary worlds constructed by both, discussing how this production can turn into testimony of personal and collective history, memory and trauma, gender and sexuality, and ethnicity.
Together, these essays help explain how writers and photographers—past and present—have served as powerful creative resources for each other.
Contributors: Stuart Burrows, Brown U; Roderick Coover, Temple U; Adrian Daub, Stanford U; Marcy J. Dinius, DePaul U; Marianne Hirsch, Columbia U; Daniel H. Magilow, U of Tennessee, Knoxville; Janine Mileaf; Tyrus Miller, U of California, Santa Cruz; Leah Rosenberg, U of Florida; Xiaojue Wang, U of Pennsylvania.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
Download PDF (23.8 MB)
Title Page, Copyright
Download PDF (74.0 KB)
Download PDF (74.0 KB)
Download PDF (49.6 KB)
The topic of the Penn Humanities Forum during academic year –was “Word and Image.” With the generous support of the forum’s found-ing director Wendy Steiner, topic directors Catriona MacLeod and LilianeWeissberg scheduled a series of lectures and events, one of which, a one-day workshop about the place of photography in fiction, became the germ...
Download PDF (102.5 KB)
What does it mean to “write with photography”? In what variety of con-texts does this long-standing but ever-evolving collaboration take place?What kinds of material support has it required or generated over the courseof its now-long history, and what diﬀerence do these locations and materi-als make not only to how we understand the nature of the interaction be -...
Chapter 1: From the Birth of Photography to the Death of the Author
Download PDF (170.9 KB)
This essay begins not with an epigraph but with a photograph— or rather a pair of photographs—that serves a similar function. The photograph and the epigraph both stand as signs of a captured essence— the former iconically, the latter metonymically. That select words and images,...
Chapter 2: Picturing the Great Unknown: John Wesley Powell and the Divergent Paths of Art and Science in the Representation of the Colorado River and Utah Canyonlands
Download PDF (1.4 MB)
How does one picture an unknown territory? In the map drawnby the U.S. Exploring Expedition led by Charles Wilkes, aband of text describes a large blank area in the center of the arid AmericanFigure 2.1. U.S. War Department Exploring Expedition Map, 1841. Published in Narrative ofthe United States Exploring Expedition (Philadelphia: Lea Blanchard, 1844).West as a “waste of sand.” A limited number of pioneer routes—mostly...
Chapter 3: “Watch How Dem Touris’ Like Fe Look”: Tourist Photography and Claude McKay’s Jamaica
Download PDF (600.0 KB)
Claude McKay launched his literary career with creole poems written in the voice of peasant speakers, detailing their quotidian experiences and existential crises. Printed and performed in Jamaica and published as two volumes, Songs of Jamaica and Constab Ballads,...
Chapter 4: Captured Things: Man Ray’s Object Photography
Download PDF (428.9 KB)
Among his many artistic occupations, Man Ray is known for assembling objects and for making photographs. As bricoleur of three-dimensional things, he produced some of his most celebrated works: Lampshade, Cadeau, and Object to Be Destroyed among them. Yet he is...
Chapter 5: Photography’s Linguistic Turn: On Werner Graeff’s Here Comes the New Photographer!
Download PDF (287.5 KB)
In , the German photography annual Das Deutsche Lichtbild (The German photograph) published a tongue-in-cheek yet revealing one-act play among its images. Written by the editor and critic Hugo Sieker, the eight-page skit, “Photograph and Personality: A Discussion Concerning...
Chapter 6: The Power of What Is Not There: James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Download PDF (203.1 KB)
James Agee’s dense, intermittently lyrical, occasionally opaque photo-text Let Us Now Praise Famous Men—his infamously longand largely unread study of three tenant families in Alabama—has beenrepeatedly characterized as the attempt to render in prose the justlyfamous Walker Evans photographs that open the book. To a large degree,Agee himself is responsible for this situation, having punctuated Praise...
Chapter 7: Playing Doll
Download PDF (816.8 KB)
In , Dare Wright published her first book, a children’s story, TheLonely Doll. The book brings together text with photographs Wright hadtaken, and it had an immediate commercial success. Wright wrote otherpicture books that followed the life and adventures of the lonely doll,Edith, and published Holiday for Edith and the Bears in , The Doll and...
Chapter 8: Situating Images: Photography, Writing, and Cinema in the Work of Guy Debord
Download PDF (668.7 KB)
The question of the image occupied a central place in the writing, political activity, and cinematic work of the founder of the Situationist International, Guy Debord.1 In Debord’s most influential work, for example, his thesis-like dissection of “the society of the spectacle” in the...
Chapter 9: The Generation of Postmemory
Download PDF (423.9 KB)
The “hinge generation,” the “guardianship of the Holocaust,” the ways inwhich “received, transferred knowledge of events is being transmuted intohistory, or into myth” (Hoﬀman xv)—these, indeed, have been my pre-occupations for the last decade and a half. I have been involved in a seriesof conversations about how that “sense of living connection” can be, and is...
Chapter 10: Picturing the Specter of History: Zhang Ailing’s Visual Practice
Download PDF (310.0 KB)
Ever since the introduction of photography, and shortly there-after, film, to China in the mid- to late nineteenth century, the newvisual media have probed the formation of modern Chinese culture. Theoft-discussed episode of Lu Xun’s slide-viewing incident is a good exam-ple of how verbal and visual modes of representation joined forces at thelaunching moment of Chinese literary modernity. In the preface to his first...
Chapter 11: Sphinxes without Secrets: W. G. Sebald’s Albums and the Aesthetics of Photographic Exchange
Download PDF (789.9 KB)
Chapter 12: Nothing to Say: The War on Terror and the Mad Photography of Roland Barthes
Download PDF (529.5 KB)
Download PDF (74.2 KB)
Download PDF (119.0 KB)
Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2013