Tuesday, February 5, 2008

On Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War

by Anthony W. Lee and Elizabeth Young

From the publisher:
Soon after Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book was published, in 1866, it became the Civil War's best-known visual record and helped define how viewers, then and in subsequent generations, would come to know the war. Gardner's classic also became foundational in the history of American photography, combining, for the first time, words and images in a sophisticated and moving account.

This book, written by the art historian Anthony W. Lee and the literary scholar Elizabeth Young, interprets the story of the war as told by Gardner, unraveling his careful choice of words and images and the complicated play between them, and understanding them against the backdrop of the literary and photographic cultures of the American antebellum and Reconstruction eras.

This book presents a unique study of a pivotal American historical document, approaching it from the perspective of visual studies as well as American literature and history.

"Anthony Lee and Elizabeth Young's deceptively slim volume is a complex, enlightening, and elegant study of a significant Civil War-era document that also greatly enhances our understanding of nineteenth-century visual culture. The analysis and format of this collaborative effort will serve as a model for cultural scholarship for years to come." - Joshua Brown, author of Beyond the Lines: Pictorial Reporting, Everyday Life, and the Crisis of Gilded Age America