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Magazines and the Making of Photographic Modernism in Canada, 1925-1945


Magazines and the Making of Photographic Modernism in Canada, 1925-1945

Tousignant, Zoë (2013) Magazines and the Making of Photographic Modernism in Canada, 1925-1945. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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The history of photography in Canada in the first half of the twentieth century is a field of study that has been only too rarely explored. The current understanding of this period is that Canadian participation in the development and dissemination of the international movement of modernist photography was minor. This thesis aims to correct this understanding by showing that the visual languages of photographic modernism were being manifested in the sphere of popular culture: specifically in Canadian mass-circulation magazines.
My approach to modernism is based on the idea that it was composed of a set of key visual conventions (or languages), which, although pre-existing their exploitation in Canadian magazines, were put to singular use in this context. The six illustrated magazines that constitute my research corpus (The Canadian Magazine, Maclean’s, Chatelaine, La Revue Moderne, La Revue populaire, and Le Samedi), studied between 1925 and 1945, all proclaimed their missions in terms of Canadianess and were addressed specifically to a Canadian readership. This nationalist rhetoric acts as a discursive frame for the magazines’ photographic content. Although many of the photographs published in these magazines were acquired from foreign sources, they were selected, published, seen, and read by Canadians.
The first two chapters of this thesis describe, respectively, my methodological framework and the discourse of Canadianism at work in the magazines. The different languages of photographic modernism being employed in the magazines studied are discussed in the following four chapters. In each of these, I endeavour to make links between the images published in Canadian magazines, the discourses significant to the modern period, and the manifestation of these discourses within the canonical history of modernist photography. My intent in doing so is to show the porosity between the local and the international, and to expand the understanding of photographic modernism in Canada.
This is the first wide-ranging study that closely investigates the photographic content of popular Canadian magazines and situates such content within the larger history of modernist photography. Approaching the magazine as a multi-dimensional photographic object, this thesis also aims to contribute to the growing body of knowledge on the history of vernacular photography in Canada.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Art History
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Tousignant, Zoë
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Art History
Date:September 2013
Thesis Supervisor(s):Langford, Martha
ID Code:977782
Deposited On:21 Nov 2013 19:10
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:45
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