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UAL Research Online

Samuel Butler's Photography: Observation and the Dynamic Past

Edwards, Elizabeth (2007) Samuel Butler's Photography: Observation and the Dynamic Past. In: Samuel Butler, Victorian Against the Grain: a Critical Overview. University of Toronto Press, Canada, pp. 251-286. ISBN 0802097456

Type of Research: Book Section
Creators: Edwards, Elizabeth

This essay considers the 'snapshot photography' of Victorian critic, writer and polymath, Samuel Butler. It explores how we might understand Butler's photography in relation to the visual rhetorics of the last decade of the nineteenth century, as inflected through his very individual and idiosyncratic view of the world.

The essay has two key strands. First, Butler's photography in relation to the cultural processes and parameters of shifting observational practices in the late nineteenth century, especially those emerging around the delineation of different cultures in proto-modern anthropology. Such debates were characterised by a sense of the past. Salvage ethnography, especially, aimed to record that which was presumed in the context of a Darwinian inevitability to be dying out. Second, is the idea of photography as a form of an analogy for prosthetic memory, which goes to the heart of Butler's neo-Lamarckian biological ideas. Both these strands are linked by an archaeological imagination, which excavates and positions in the present that which is 'buried' and invisible within the past, a form of historical consciousness projected onto a subject matter.

This essay is the first time that Butler's photography has been explored in terms of his biological ideas and as such constitutes a contribution to the intellectual history of late nineteenth-century photography.

Official Website: http://www.utppublishing.com/product.php?productid=2620&cat=0&page=1
Additional Information (Publicly available):

Elizabeth Edwards' Current Research

I am currently working on three projects: a book entitled Textiles and Dress of Gujarat to be published by Mapin Publishing (India) with V&A Publishing in 2010; research on the regional production of saris for an exhibition entitled Simply Sari to be held at the Textile Research Centre, Leiden, The Netherlands in 2010 for which I am writing the catalogue; and collecting oral histories among block printers and dyers of western India.

Recent research:

I have recently completed a programme of research funded by the British Academy and the Laura and Luigi Dallapiccola Foundation with printers and painters in Srikalahasti and Machilipatnam in Andhra Pradesh, printers in Jaipur, Bagru and Sanganer in Rajasthan, and printers in Gujarat. I also carried out research with indigo farmers in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The project has been developed in collaboration with artisans at these sites with technical input from Dr Ismail Mohammad Khatri. The material will be developed in to a book but has already been disseminated through conference papers, journal articles and other publications.

Publisher/Broadcaster/Company: University of Toronto Press
Your affiliations with UAL: Colleges > London College of Fashion
Date: 2007
Related Websites: http://www.fashion.arts.ac.uk/31499.htm, http://www.amazon.com/Samuel-Butler-Victorian-Against-Critical/dp/0802097456
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Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2009 22:41
Last Modified: 30 Sep 2010 09:11
Item ID: 1611
URI: https://ualresearchonline.arts.ac.uk/id/eprint/1611

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