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New Woman: Corsets and Cameras: Photography, Bicycling and the New Woman in Turn-of-the-Century America

Event Details

New Woman: Corsets and Cameras: Photography, Bicycling and the New Woman in Turn-of-the-Century America

Time: August 28, 2010 to December 31, 2010
Location: Henisch Photo-History Collection Exhibit Room, 201A Pattee Library
Street: Penn State University
Website or Map: http://live.psu.edu/story/479…
Event Type: exhibition
Latest Activity: Aug 28, 2010

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Event Description

Photographs, postcards, books, periodicals, advertisements and other original documents highlight the advent of the New Woman onto the American scene in the 1890s. Young, active, fashionable, adventurous, and often unescorted, the so-called New Woman took advantage of the mobility, freedom and independence offered by the cycling and camera crazes that swept the American scene in the 1890s.

Special topics in the exhibition include:
-- The technological debut of the safety bicycle and the hand-held Kodak camera,
-- representations of the New Woman in advertising to sell the equipment and gear developed by manufacturers,
-- parodies of the New Woman that underscored the danger of leaving their proper homes by going "awheel" and "Kodaking," and
-- the interrelationship of the New Woman cycling and photography as symbols of liberty and modernity.

Kodak made a portable camera that made it possible for people to become amateur photographers and take candid pictures, Stelts said. Kodak was the first company to make a portable camera, and it even made a pouch for the bike, so a camera could travel safely with a rider, she said.
George Eastman chose women for his demographic when he developed his version of the portable camera in 1888, Hofelt said.

His slogan was "you press the button, we do the rest," which was appealing to women because it didn't sound like a machine, she said.
During this time, women also stopped looking to France or continental Europe for fashion trends, Grigor said. As women became more active, the "Gibson girl" was born. Gibson made fitted skirts that highlighted the hips and this began groundbreaking fashion trends in the United States, she added.

The exhibition will contain books, photos, travel logs and more -- all depicting the new woman.

The selections are from the holdings of the B. and H. Henisch Photo-History Collection and Rare Books and Manuscripts by guest curator Miranda Hofelt.

Hofelt is currently a doctoral candidate in the Department of Art History at the University of Chicago and an adjunct lecturer at the Art Institute of Chicago, where she has served in a variety of positions since 1995. She is co-curator of a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, "Playing with Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage" and co-author of an exhibition catalog of the same title. She has taught courses at the University of Chicago and the University of Pittsburgh.

For more than 45 years, Bridget A. and the late Heinz K. Henisch built a teaching collection on the history of photography that documents the development and changes of fashion, political propaganda, advertising, humor and book design, among other areas of interest. The collection, acquired from the Henisches by the University Libraries in 1995, includes a wide array of images and photographic processes.
A web site offers further details.

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