British photographic history

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Seminars: History and Theory of Photography Research Centre / London

The History and Theory of Photography Research Centre at Birkbeck, London, has a series of spring seminars which are free and and open to all.

Tuesday 26 March 2019, 6-7:30pm

Room 114 (Keynes Library), 46 Gordon Square, WC1H 0PD

Jennifer Tucker, History Department and Science in Society Program, Wesleyan University

Load, Point and Shoot:  Cameras, Gun Cartridges, and the ‘Black Boxes’ of History

This paper explores what it might mean for historians to take seriously the shared history of firearms and cameras, two technologies that co-evolved in the 19th century and that have had a profound impact on society ever since. As David Campbell writes, ‘the technologies of the gun and camera…evolved in lockstep’. (Campbell 2012; Landau 2002; Virilio 1984). My paper extends this notion by analysing further the many different and often unexpected aspects of the historical relationship between cameras and guns. Drawing on new archival research on 19th and early 20th century camera and firearm production and consumption in Britain and the U.S., my paper documents their complementarity at several levels (of structure, chemistry, industrial organization, research, and marketing), aiming to address how and why the technologies function, why they are interoperable, and how their study highlights new ways of thinking about technoscience and the ‘black boxes’ of history. Technologies such as cameras and guns, I suggest, pose certain shared methodological problems for historians and raise broader questions about the writing of history and the role of the historian in ethical discussions about their production and use.

April 14-19 (day tbc)

As part of Birkbeck’s Arts Week 2019, Mathilde Bertrand, Université Bordeaux-Montaigne, France, and visiting scholar at the History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, will be talking about her current research on community photography in Britain.


Wednesday 8 May 2019, 6-7:30pm

Mirjam Brusius, German Historical Institute, London, will be talking about research for her forthcoming book The Absence of Photography: William Henry Fox Talbot.

See more here:

Image: Laurie Simmons, Walking Gun (1991), gelatin-silver print, Metropolitan Museum of Art

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