The Camera and the Press American Visual and Print Culture in the Age of the Daguerreotype

Marcy J. Dinius

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.



  • $49.95 cloth, 978-0-8122-4404-5
  • $49.95 ebook, 978-0-8122-0634-0
  • 320 pages
  • 44 illus., 6 x 9 in.

Content Excerpt

Table of Contents

about the author

Marcy J. Dinius is an assistant professor of English at DePaul University. Her areas of interest and teaching include Pre-Civil War American literature and culture, African-American literature, and the history of print culture. A 2008-09 John W. Kluge Center Fellow at the Library of Congress and a 2005-06 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, she is now working on a second book, on African-American radical writing in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Essays from her research and teaching have appeared in ESQ, Poe Studies, the Modern Language Association volume Approaches to Teaching Poe's Poetry and Prose, and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography.