Without a Trace: Early Photography and the History of Visual Objectivity


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


Art History


This project explores the role of visual illusions and their discernment in the culture of Victorian Britain during the emergence of photography. In particular, my dissertation investigates the vast terrain of belief and incredulity within which the new medium flourished, evaluating the objectivity associated with photography against a broader milieu of visual persuasiveness offered by modern industrial culture. The project analyzes specific photographers and practices to trace the rise of an audience with a provisionally granted capacity to judge the reliability of their own visual experience, a crucial feature of modern life which restively emerges from the parallel and often incommensurate demands of politics and commerce around the time of photography’s genesis.