The proofs of Making Photography Matter are being finalized as I write this, and at the end of next week I'm meeting with the marketing folks at University of Illinois Press to discuss the book's May publication. This book feels like it took such a long time to appear. There are a whole host of reasons for that, including the fact that guess what? Life happens while you're writing books! But it's also the case that this book started out as one thing and then became something else entirely. I'll let my 2007 self explain, as I put it in my blog first efforts during my sabbatical year at Vanderbilt University:
ka-BOOM!The sound you just heard is the sound of my book blowing up.
Thanks to two really useful seminar sessions with my fellow fellows, over the past week or so the project has exploded in scary, messy, and (I hope) potentially compelling ways. I have sensed for a while (but not wanted to accept) that I need to add an entirely new chapter as a kind of "prequel" to the time period I'm discussing (1890s to 1930s). After today's discussion I'm convinced that this is absolutely necessary. I'm also more convinced than ever that this is as much a book about deliberation, judgment, and agency as it is a book about photography. Which feels very, very right to me.
Guess this is what sabbatical is for.
I was lucky to have that sabbatical year at the Robert Penn Warren Center in Nashville. It made me smarter. It made me think bigger. And it made me more tolerant of ambiguity. And now, finally, the scary mess that emerged from that productive year of thinking and talking and writing has, I hope, been wrestled/cajoled/loved/worked/reworked into something compelling about photography and agency.
Research news, commentary on visual politics, and a few old blog posts given new life.