On Photography - Study Guide America, Seen Through Photographs, Darkly Summary & Analysis

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This chapter of the monograph focuses nearly exclusively on American cultural development throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s. It is unusual in focusing early attention on Walt Whitman—not a photographer—as the focus of American culture from about 1855 to the turn of the century. Whitman's cultural and social influence is termed "Whitmanesque" in the text and can be summarized as a desire to see beyond beauty and ugliness into the essential value of a person or object. To Whitman, the trivial was important and it was critical to accept the real. Whitman wanted to see all of humanity as a homogeneous whole, welded together by commonality instead of separated by superficial distinctions. Whitman's view was challenged and, the text argues, entirely defeated, mostly by accident, by photography.

Early photography attempted to validate Whitman's...

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This section contains 468 words
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Buy the On Photography Study Guide
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