SEMINAR : “Towards a social history of photoliterature and the photobook”

Seminar at the Maison Française d’Oxford 2017-2018
2-10 Norham Road, Oxford OX2 6SE
Convened by Paul Edwards (MFO / CNRS / LARCA)
Wednesdays at 5:15 p.m. (unless o/w indicated)
(tea is served at 5 p.m.)

“Towards a Social History of Photoliterature and the Photobook”
This international seminar brings together researchers working on photography and the book with interdisciplinary approaches, connecting the aesthetic and material dimensions of the photobook with social, economic and political perspectives.
Whilst the scope of the seminar encompasses general aspects of “photography and literature” — such as photographically illustrated fiction, writers’ portraits, the use of photographic activities, products or metaphors in writing — the primary theme of the seminar is the history and current state of the photobook. The aim is to encourage and disseminate research on its social history, its physical forms (including digital), its relations with the art market/bibliophile market, its networks of production, circulation, readership, as well as its engagement with race, whiteness, colonialism, gender and sexuality, and, where pertinent, its ethnographic methods.
Since the end of the economic model that allowed photojournalism to flourish in periodicals over the course of the twentieth century, photographers have increasingly resorted to alternative spaces, and most notably the book. Since the well-distributed publication of Martin Parr and Gerry Badger’s The Photobook: A History (2004), interest in photographers’ books has increased dramatically at auction houses, and the question of “value” has become insistent and complex. Book studies, anthropology, sociology, comparative literature, history of art… different disciplines can help shed light on the social meanings of photobooks, hence the need for an interdisciplinary seminar.
Trinity term 2018

2 May at 3 p.m. :

  • Heidi Brevik-Zender (University of California, Riverside), “Jane Dieulafoy’s Persian photographs and her novel Parysatis (1890)”
  • Emilia Terracciano (Leverhulme Postdoctoral Research Fellow 2015-18, Ruskin School of Art), “Becoming Palm (2017): Botany and performance in the work of Simryn Gill”

at 5:15 p.m. :

  • Benjamin Tree (De Montfort University), “International networks of the photo-book in the 1950s and early 60s”
  • Annebella Pollen (University of Brighton), “Evaluating photobooks: from ugly to beautiful”

23 May at 5:15 p.m. :

  • Michèle Mendelssohn (Mansfield College), “Napoléon Sarony’s literary portraits”
  • Peter Hamilton (GEMASS – Groupe d’Etude des Méthodes de l’Analyse Sociologique de la Sorbonne), “Photobooks and photographic paradigms: French humanist photography and its ‘locomotives litteraires’”

30 May at 5:15 p.m. :

  • Guillemette Crouzet (Warwick), “Finding the Bakhtiari. Isabella Bird’s photographic album and journey in Persia at the end of the nineteenth century”

6 June at 5:15 p.m. :

  • Miguel de Baca (History of Art, UO, and Lake Forest College, Illinois), “Albertine is gone: on pictures and intimacy in Tom Bianchi’s Fire Island Pines”
  • Christopher Morton (Pitt Rivers Museum), “Photography and the anthropological monograph: The Nuer (1940)”

13 June at 5:15 p.m. :

  • Laureline Meizel (Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne), “Understanding the transmedial circulation of photographs: the illustrated book in the throes of colonial expansion, 1895-1901”
  • Kathrin Yacavone (Nottingham), “Barthes’s unfinished photo-book project Autobiographie en images”

Wednesday 2 May 2018 (2nd Week, Trinity Term)

Wednesday 23 May 2018 (5th Week, Trinity Term)