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An Artist's Journey
Phillip Hofstetter first visited Yucatán in 1987 and was entranced, as much by the sheer physical beauty of the region as by the enduring character of the Maya people still inhabiting the region. For more than twenty years he has been documenting his travels in Yucatán and his professional collaboration with archaeological excavation projects there. His reflections on the Maya culture emphasize survival and adaptation, while images of ancient sites, the churches of the Franciscan mission period, and the ruined haciendas of the henequen period serve as physical reminders of the enduring ways in which the Maya have shaped the landscape of Yucatán over millennia.
The Quiet in the Land
With their distinctive head coverings, plain dress, and quiet, unassuming demeanor, the Mennonites are a distinctive presence within the often flamboyant and proud people of Texas. If you have seen them at a gas station, in a grocery store, or even at the Dallas–Fort Worth airport, you have probably taken note and wondered how they came to be there. In this photographic tour of two Texas Mennonite communities, separated by almost 450 miles, Laura L. Camden and Susan Gaetz Duarte introduce you to the Beachy Amish Mennonites of Lott, a small community of approximately 160 people in Central Texas, and the very different Mennonites of Seminole, a West Texas farming community of more than five thousand residents and five separate congregations, several of which still speak the Mennonite Low German. Spending more than a year getting to know the families, participating in day-to-day activities, and photographing the unique culture of the communities, Camden and Gaetz Duarte developed deep insight into not just the religious beliefs but the family relationships, role expectations, and daily routines of these people. Through their camera lenses, they offer others a touchingly intimate view of a unique lifestyle seldom experienced by outsiders. In a foreword, former governor Ann Richards identifies the book as part of both the long photographic tradition in Texas and the tradition of cultural and religious diversity in the state. Mark L. Louden’s introduction provides the historical backgrounds of Mennonites in Europe, their core beliefs, and their development into branches in North America. Dennis Carlyle Darling offers insightful comments on the photography that allows an intimate, respectful view of the people, their lifestyle, and their culture.
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.
Dams, Postcards, and the American Landscape
In Pastoral and Monumental, Donald C. Jackson chronicles America’s longtime love affair with dams as represented on picture postcards from the late nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. Through nearly four hundred images, Jackson documents the remarkable transformation of dams and their significance to the environment and culture of America. Initially, dams were portrayed in pastoral settings on postcards that might jokingly proclaim them as “a dam pretty place.” But scenes of flood damage, dam collapses, and other disasters also captured people’s attention. Later, images of New Deal projects, such as the Hoover Dam, Grand Coulee Dam, and Norris Dam, symbolized America’s rise from the Great Depression through monumental public works and technological innovation. Jackson relates the practical applications of dams, describing their use in irrigation, navigation, flood control, hydroelectric power, milling, mining, and manufacturing. He chronicles changing construction techniques, from small timber mill dams to those more massive and more critical to a society dependent on instant access to electricity and potable water. Concurrent to the evolution of dam technology, Jackson recounts the rise of a postcard culture that was fueled by advances in printing, photography, lowered postal rates, and America’s fascination with visual imagery. In 1910, almost one billion postcards were mailed through the U.S. Postal Service, and for a period of over fifty years, postcards featuring dams were “all the rage.” Whether displaying the charms of an old mill, the aftermath of a devastating flood, or the construction of a colossal gravity dam, these postcards were a testament to how people perceived dams as structures of both beauty and technological power.
Picturing Human-Feline Ties 1890-1940
The Photographed Cat presents readers with an examination of how human-cat relationships are depicted in early twentieth-century photography. Examining this relationship from the perspective of the photographer and the human subjects who made or appear in these photographs, Arluke and Rolfe show that the cat photographs are valuable windows into sets of cultural values that may have existed at the time.
Beggar, Freak, Citizen, & Other Photographic Rhetoric
Bogdan and his collaborators have studied thousands of historical photographs of people with disabilities in writing this book. Their work shows how people with disabilities have been presented but in a much wider range than we have ever seen before.
Civility in Asian American Visual Culture
At the heart of the model minority myth—often associated with Asian Americans—is the concept of civility. In this groundbreaking book, Picturing Model Citizens, Thy Phu exposes the complex links between civility and citizenship, and argues that civility plays a crucial role in constructing Asian American citizenship.
Featuring works by Arnold Genthe, Carl Iwasaki, Toyo Miyatake, Nick Ut, and others, Picturing Model Citizens traces the trope of civility from the nineteenth to the twenty-first centuries. Through an examination of photographs of Chinese immigrants, Japanese internment camps, the Hiroshima Maidens project, napalm victims, and the SARS epidemic, Phu explores civility's unexpected appearance in images that draw on discourses of intimacy, cultivation, apology, and hygiene. She reveals how Asian American visual culture illustrates not only cultural ideas of civility, but also contests the contradictions of state-defined citizenship.
Hubble Space Telescope Images and the Astronomical Sublime
The vivid, dramatic images of distant stars and galaxies taken by the Hubble Space Telescope have come to define how we visualize the cosmos. In their immediacy and vibrancy, photographs from the Hubble show what future generations of space travelers might see should they venture beyond our solar system. But their brilliant hues and precise details are not simply products of the telescope’s unprecedented orbital location and technologically advanced optical system. Rather, they result from a series of deliberate decisions made by the astronomers who convert raw data from the Hubble into spectacular pictures by assigning colors, adjusting contrast, and actively composing the images, balancing the desire for an aesthetically pleasing representation with the need for a scientifically valid one.
In Picturing the Cosmos, Elizabeth A. Kessler examines the Hubble’s deep space images, highlighting the remarkable resemblance they bear to nineteenth-century paintings and photographs of the American West and their invocation of the visual language of the sublime. Drawing on art history and the history of science, as well as interviews with astronomers who work on the Hubble Heritage Project, Kessler traces the ways that the sublime, with its inherent tension between reason and imagination, not only forms the appearance of the images, but also operates on other levels. The sublime informs the dual expression—numeric and pictorial—of digital data and underpins the relevance of the frontier for a new era of exploration performed by our instruments rather than our bodies. Through their engagement with the sublime the Hubble images are a complex act of translation that encourages an experience of the universe as simultaneously beyond humanity’s grasp and within the reach of our knowledge.
Strikingly illustrated with full-color images, this book reveals the scientific, aesthetic, and cultural significance of the Hubble pictures, offering a nuanced understanding of how they shape our ideas—and dreams—about the cosmos and our places within it.
Beautifully illustrated, Portrait Photography in Africa offers new interpretations of the cultural and historical roles of photography in Africa. Twelve leading scholars look at early photographs, important photographers’ studios, the uses of portraiture in the 19th century, and the current passion for portraits in Africa. They review a variety of topics, including what defines a common culture of photography, the social and political implications of changing technologies for portraiture, and the lasting effects of culture on the idea of the person depicted in the photographic image.