Before most Americans ever saw an actual daguerreotype, they
encountered this visual form through written descriptions,
published and rapidly reprinted in newspapers throughout the land.
In The Camera and the Press, Marcy J. Dinius examines how
the first written and published responses to the daguerreotype set
the terms for how we now understand the representational accuracy
and objectivity associated with the photograph, as well as the
democratization of portraiture that photography enabled.
Dinius's archival research ranges from essays in popular
nineteenth-century periodicals to daguerreotypes of Americans,
Liberians, slaves, and even fictional characters. Examples of these
portraits are among the dozens of illustrations featured in the
book. The Camera and the Press presents new dimensions of
Nathaniel Hawthorne's The House of the Seven Gables,
Herman Melville's Pierre, Harriet Beecher Stowe's
Uncle Tom's Cabin, and Frederick Douglass's The Heroic
Slave. Dinius shows how these authors strategically
incorporated aspects of daguerreian representation to advance their
aesthetic, political, and social agendas. By recognizing print and
visual culture as one, Dinius redefines such terms as art,
objectivity, sympathy, representation, race, and nationalism and
their interrelations in nineteenth-century America.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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