Women′s Camera Work

Self/Body/Other in American Visual Culture

Women′s Camera Work

New Americanists

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Book Pages: 512 Illustrations: 220 b&w photographs Published: May 1998

American Studies, Art and Visual Culture > Photography, Gender and Sexuality > Feminism and Women’s Studies

Women’s Camera Work explores how photographs have been and are used to construct versions of history and examines how photographic representations of otherness often tell stories about the self. In the process, Judith Fryer Davidov focuses on the lives and work of a particular network of artists linked by time, interaction, influence, and friendship—one that included Gertrude Käsebier, Imogen Cunningham, Dorothea Lange, and Laura Gilpin.

Women’s Camera Work
ranges from American women’s photographic practices during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries to a study of landscape photography. Using contemporary cultural studies discourse to critique influential male-centered historiography and the male-dominated art world, Davidov exhibits the work of these women; tells their absorbing stories; and discusses representations of North American Indians, African Americans, Asian Americans, and the migrant poor. Evaluating these photographers’ distinct contributions to constructions of Americanness and otherness, she helps us to discover the power of reading images closely, and to learn to see through these women’s eyes.

In presenting one of the most important strands of American photography, this richly illustrated book will interest students of American visual culture, women’s studies, and general readers alike.


“[P]acked with information of interest to students of photography and, indeed, of twentieth-century American culture. . . .” — Jean Chothia , American Studies

“Judith Fryer Davidov’s new book is a major contribution to the field not only for the research that she has done into the careers of eight American women photographers working predominantly during the first half of the twentieth century, but also because her study challenges scholars to think anew about how photographic history and the representation of otherness have been constructed. . . . Davidov’s book is important for injecting a feminist perspective into the medium’s critical literature. She ultimately suceeds in decentering the established historiography and begins the process of accounting more fully for women’s camera work.” — Frank H. Goodyear , American Studies International

“The success of Women’s Camera Work is the scrupulous and sensitive consideration of the lives of both the photograph (as text) and the photographer (as practitioner) in a culture that has often marginalized both.” — Paul Grainge , American Studies

“Davidov is an eloquent and passionate reader of texts and images. . . . She gives us a chance to think about a set of relationships among major American women photographers that few people know about.” — Iris Tillman Hill, Duke University

“What a splendid achievement this book is. It is rich in texture, nuanced, fascinating—an outstanding work.” — Miles Orvell, Temple University


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Price: $32.95

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Judith Fryer Davidov is Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She is the author of The Faces of Eve: Women in the Nineteenth-Century American Novel and Felicitous Space: The Imaginative Constructions of Edith Wharton and Willa Cather.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2067-8 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2054-8
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