Imaging, Industrialization, and Imagination:
The History of Photography and the Construction of National Identity at
I intend to research the historical relationship between photography
and Niagara Falls, and how the visual documentation of this relationship
in photographs reflects the intersection of American national
identity in relation to nature, technology, tourism,
and consumption. I will specifically focus on how
landscape is defined and represented in pictures
of the Falls.
- How can historical shifts in the composition, format, and content of
these images since the inception of photography be visually read as indicative
of historically shifting attitudes?
- How are 19th century attitudes about nature as sublime and as savage
illustrated in Frederick Church's seminal painting, as compared to early
20th century views of technology in relation to nature in the service of
scientific progress and objective reason?
- When and how do tourists begin to see and represent themselves
in their relation to the Falls?
- How have definitions of "landscape" and a "scenic view"
stimulated consciousness of commercial and industrial exploitation of the
Falls, as they are emblematic of America's boundless resources?
- How has photography been instrumental in developing a shift in the
perceived relationship of individuals and human activity to nature, natural
resources, and national identity?
- And how has photographic representation of the Falls and of the American
landscape been redefined since WWII in light of environmental awareness
and especially in the aftermath of such toxic disasters as Love