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Before the Real Thing: Reconsidering Portraiture, Interiority, and
The introduction of photographic technology to American culture in 1839
brought with it a rise of stories, poems, and essays that addressed how
the photographic portrait could capture and captivate the individual.
>From Harperâ€™s contributors to Hawthorne, everyone seemed to have an
opinion on the links between photographic portraiture and public culture,
frequently tying the phenomenon to issues that had long structured
American fiction: for example, sentiment, authenticity, and self-
representation. And, yet, photographs were not the first portraits
Americans had seen, nor were they the first to be discussed in Americaâ€™s
visual vernacular; from the beginning of Atlantic colonialism, portraits
of all kinds were a part of American discourse. Was the photographed
portrait really so new and unexpected? How did it affect the way
Americans thought of themselves and the ways they thought of others? How
did people identify themselves through portraits before photography?
What visual markers were Americans looking for in portraits, either
before or after the rise of photography? How did Americans see portraits
as revelatory images?
We welcome submissions that deal with questions of portraiture,
interiority, and self-representation in American literature before the
Gilded Age for a panel proposal at the 2008 American Literature
Association Conference. We are especially interested in
interdisciplinary connections between the verbal and visual that respond
to trends in recent scholarship.
Please send 300 word abstracts of proposed papers to Sarah Blackwood (s-
blackwood_at_northwestern.edu) and to Megan Walsh (mewalsh_at_temple.edu) no
later than December 1, 2007.
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Received on Wed Sep 19 2007 - 11:52:34 EDT