Soon after Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Bookwas published, in 1866, it became the Civil War's best-known visual record and helped define how viewers, then and in subsequent generations, would come to know the war. Gardner's classic also became foundational in the history of American photography, combining, for the first time, words and images in a sophisticated and moving account. This book, written by the art historian Anthony W. Lee and the literary scholar Elizabeth Young, interprets the story of the war as told by Gardner, unraveling his careful choice of words and images and the complicated play between them, and understanding them against the backdrop of the literary and photographic cultures of the American antebellum and Reconstruction eras. This book presents a unique study of a pivotal American historical document, approaching it from the perspective of visual studies as well as American literature and history.
List of Illustrations
The Image of War
Anthony W. Lee
Anthony W. Lee is Associate Professor of Art History at Mount Holyoke College. He is the author of Painting on the Left: Diego Rivera, Radical Politics, and San Francisco's Public Murals (1999) and Picturing Chinatown: Art and Orientalism in San Francisco (2001), both from UC Press. Elizabeth Young is Associate Professor of English at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Disarming the Nation: Women's Writing and the American Civil War (1999) and the forthcoming American Frankenstein: Race, Sex, and the Politics of Monstrosity.
"Lee and Young have admirably elucidated this foundational volume in the history of American photography by developing references that emerge from prior readings of these images, as well as thoughtfully producing new ways of seeing the landscapes Gardner presents. The book makes available to a wide audience one of the most important photographic records of any war and certainly the most interesting visual record of the American Civil War. This is superior scholarship."—Shirley Samuels, author of Facing America: Iconography and the Civil War
"Anthony Lee and Elizabeth Young's deceptively slim volume is a complex, enlightening, and elegant study of a significant Civil War-era document that also greatly enhances our understanding of nineteenth-century visual culture. The analysis and format of this collaborative effort will serve as a model for cultural scholarship for years to come."—Joshua Brown, author of Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, and the Crisis of Gilded Age America
"In this beautifully written analysis of one of the most important works of nineteenth-century American photography, Lee and Young restore Gardner's Sketch Book to its rightful place as a key document of American history. At once a report of a newsworthy event and a meditation on its historical meaning, Gardner's album is less unmediated reportage than a carefully constructed argument. In clear, lucid prose, Lee and Young help us understand just how Gardner made this work that helped fix the Civil War in American memory."—Martha A. Sandweiss, author of Print the Legend: Photography and the American West