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Domestic iconography: a cultural study of Victorian photography, 1840-1880

Boman, Charlotte 2017. Domestic iconography: a cultural study of Victorian photography, 1840-1880. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This critical study of photography between 1840 and 1880 focuses on the medium’s complex role as a mediator of the ideology of domesticity in an era of intense industrialisation and far-reaching popularisation. In doing so, photographic production and consumption are located within the wide, hybrid framework of print and commodity culture, with particular emphasis placed on the patterns of communication emerging through the new network of family periodicals. This methodological approach serves in part to overcome the considerable difficulties of bringing amorphous voices vying for discursive control over photography into focus. More importantly, however, it is proposed that this journalistic field testifies to the conflicting appeal photography held for a domestic readership, and the intricacy of combining a family orientated agenda with the challenges presented by a modernising world. The turn towards a more divisive perspective on photography in the mid-1850s is fundamentally bound up with extraneous conditions, circumstances which shaped patterns of discourse, professional practices and ordinary usage: urbanisation, an enlarging consumer market, social and demographic change and evolving anxieties around identity, gender and domesticity in light of all these permutations. As indicated by articles, published correspondence, advertisements and publicity, photography responded to conflicting desires and impulses present in culture and society at large. Liminal by nature, the medium figures as a powerful symbol of domestic boundness but also as the embodiment of a swelling engagement with the metropolis, a site of hazard and iniquity, but also an advancing arena for bourgeois social performance and play. Thus, this study, like the Victorian photographer, traces the ideological construction of the Victorian family through multiple lenses - comic, architectural, artistic, familial, institutional, topographical and social.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Funders: AHRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 7 June 2017
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2018 01:30

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