Inventing "Documentary" in American Photography, 1930-1945: From Experimental Practices to Public Contests


Luce/ACLS Dissertation Fellowships in American Art


Department of Art History


This study examines multiple, competing concepts of "documentary" in American photography, as they were formulated and set into circulation through specific photographic projects and publications. Refuting prevalent theories of documentary as a singular genre or ideological imperative, this study instead historicizes documentary as a terrain of experiment and contest as the medium's cultural and artistic roles multiplied in the 1930s-40s.