Rethinking Early Photography, 16th-17th June 2015, University of Lincoln

full name / name of organization: 
Owen Clayton, Jim Cheshire, Hannah Field, University of Lincoln, UK

Attitudes to photography have undergone a radical shift in recent times. Partly in response to these contemporary changes, historians, curators and photographic practitioners have begun to re-examine older forms of photography: exploring the wide variety of historical technologies and techniques, finding surprising ways in which images were manipulated and determining how an ideology of photographic realism was maintained. Yet there remains a need for scholars to explore questions of early photographic 'authorship', singularity and objectivity in much greater detail.

Scholarly studies of nineteenth-century photography have been heavily influenced by later theoretical constructions. As an alternative, Daniel Novak has posited a 'Victorian theory of photography'. Yet this theory remains unelaborated. Similarly, Elizabeth Edwards and others have called for a move away from the traditional Art History model of analysing photography. This interdisciplinary conference will explore the question of what such an analysis, and such a theory, might look like.

Possible questions and areas of interest for the conference include:

• How do technological narratives influence our understanding of photography?
• Photography as a business; photographers as workers.
• The hegemony of nineteenth-century photographic realism, and resistances to it.
• Can/should we do away with the Art History model of photography?
• Alternatives to the photographer-as-author model of photographic exhibition and analysis.
• To what extent can we think of photography as being separate to other print and visual media?
• The role of photography in the creation of nineteenth-century celebrity.
• Early photography as represented in literature, art and film.
• Photographs as networks; photographs as objects.
• When does 'early' photography end?
• Does digital photography allow us to 'read back' the performativity of images from earlier periods? How might the revival of Victorian photographic techniques by current practitioners influence historians?

To submit proposals for 20 minute papers, please send an abstract of 200-250 words to The deadline is 12th Jan 2015, 5pm (GMT).