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The Oxford History of Popular Print CultureVolume Six: US Popular Print Culture 1860-1920$
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Christine Bold

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199234066

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199234066.001.0001

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Jacob Riis and Popularizing the Photography of Class Trauma

Jacob Riis and Popularizing the Photography of Class Trauma

(p.573) Chapter 28 Jacob Riis and Popularizing the Photography of Class Trauma
The Oxford History of Popular Print Culture

Keith Gandal

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines photographs of urban poverty by the social reformer Jacob Riis, with emphasis on what they suggest about the trauma of class subordination, or class trauma. It also considers how Riis uses his photojournalism to portray multiple cross-class encounters and some of the class dynamics of popular representation, yielding results that are indicative of the conflicted collaborations and power relations at the heart of popular print culture and visual media in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The chapter concludes by analysing Riis’s views about criminality and vice, along with his fictional representations of the poor and of life in the slums through the lens of his photography.

Keywords:   photographs, urban poverty, Jacob Riis, class trauma, photojournalism, cross-class encounters, popular print culture, poor, slums, photography

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