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The detective, the villain, and the trigger of the lens : the limitations of archival desire in photographic and literary exposures, 1870-1915

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The detective, the villain, and the trigger of the lens : the limitations of archival desire in photographic and literary exposures, 1870-1915

Suurtamm, Karen Emily (2005) The detective, the villain, and the trigger of the lens : the limitations of archival desire in photographic and literary exposures, 1870-1915. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

This thesis examines cultural and literary texts that trouble the status of the camera, the photograph, and the photographer, as they respond to the popularization of photography in Britain, from 1870-1915. More specifically, I locate particular anxieties about the consequences of an unchecked documentary impulse and the expansion of the photographic gaze, both facilitated by an explosion in photographic technologies. Such an analysis challenges an often-perceived collaboration between realism, positivism, detection, and photography by focusing on three particular eruptions of such discourses: discussions regarding photographic representations of the London poor in the 1870s; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's short story, "A Scandal in Bohemia", published in 1891; and E. W. Hornung's novel The Camera Fiend , published in 1911. Rather than providing illumination, clarity, proof, or security, these texts articulate the ways that photography can challenge social order, especially when it threatens to expose the previously secure private worlds of the upper classes. The problematization of photography in these texts destabilizes various constructions: the moral authority of the detective, the excitement surrounding photography's 'democratized' gaze, and the limitations of acceptable documentary projects. Finally, I will develop suggestions regarding the ways these texts simultaneously endorse and destabilize the project of literary realism, in their repression of photographic subjectivity and ambivalence with regards to the photographer's capacity and desire to 'capture the real'

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > English
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Suurtamm, Karen Emily
Pagination:vi, 117 leaves : ill., ports. ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:English
Date:2005
Thesis Supervisor(s):Camlot, Jason
ID Code:8424
Deposited By:Concordia University Libraries
Deposited On:18 Aug 2011 14:25
Last Modified:18 Aug 2011 15:30
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