The Contest of Meaning: Critical Histories of Photography

Front Cover
Richard Bolton
MIT Press, 1992 - Photography - 407 pages
0 Reviews

Photography's great success gives the impression that the major questions that havehaunted the medium are now resolved. On the contrary - the most important questions aboutphotography are just beginning to be asked. These fourteen essays, with over 200 illustrations,critically examine prevailing beliefs about the medium and suggest new ways to explain the historyof photography. They are organized around the questions: What are the social consequences ofaesthetic practice? How does photography construct sexual difference? How is photography used topromote class and national interests? What are the politics of photographic truth?The Contest ofMeaning summarizes the challenges to traditional photographic history that have developed in thelast decade out of a consciously political critique of photographic production. Contributions by awide range of important Americans critics reexamine the complex - and often contradictory - roles ofphotography within society.Douglas Crimp, Christopher Phillips, Benjamin Buchloh, and AbigailSolomon Godeau examine the gradually developed exclusivity of art photography and describe thepolitics of canon formation throughout modernism. Catherine Lord, Deborah Bright, Sally Stein, andJan Zita Grover examine the ways in which the female is configured as a subject, and explain howsexual difference is constructed across various registers of photographic representation.CarolSquiers, Esther Parada, and Richard Bolton clarify the ways in which photography serves as a form ofmass communication, demonstrating in particular how photographic production is affected by theinterests of the powerful patrons of communications. The three concluding essays, by RosalindKrauss, Martha Rosler, and Allan Sekula, critically examine the concept of photographic truth byexploring the intentions informing various uses of "objective" images within society.Richard Boltonis an artist and writer who has exhibited and published widely. He has taught in the VisibleLanguage Workshop at MIT's Media Laboratory and at the Visual Studies Workshop inRochester.


What people are saying - Write a review

The Contest of meaning: critical histories of photography

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Editor Bolton has assembled 14 essays offering an alternate approach to the popular vein of post-modernist theory that suggests the understanding of form is ahistorical, i.e., not dependent on context ... Read full review


The Short Sad Career of Diane Arbus
An Inquiryinto
Modernization of a MiddleClass
Some Problems in MinorityRepresentation
Photographvs Discursive Spaces
in around and afterthoughts on documentaryphotography
The Bodyand the Archive

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (1992)

Steven J. Luck is is Professor of Psychology and a core member of the Center for Mind and Brain at the University of California, Davis.

Bibliographic information