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Author Ruby, Jay.

Title Secure the shadow : death and photography in America / Jay Ruby
Published Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1995]


Location Call no. Vol. Availability
 W'PONDS  779.20973 Rub/Sts  AVAILABLE
Description x, 220 pages : illustrations ; 27 cm
Contents Introduction: Seeing Death. A Reflexive Interlude. A Social Approach to Photography. Looking at Death. I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy -- 1. Precursors: Mortuary and Posthumous Paintings. Mortuary Portraits. Posthumous Mourning Paintings -- 2. One Last Image: Postmortem and Funeral Photography. False Conceptions and Misperceptions. The Openness of the Nineteenth Century. Styles of Photographically Representing the Dead. Babies, Pets, and Loss. Family Funeral Photographs and Narrative Scenes of Grief. Mourning Portraits and Jewelry -- 3. Memorial Photography. Public Memorial Representations. Memorial Photographs. Memorial and Funeral Cards. Floral & Memorial Photographs. Illustrated Tombstones -- 4. Conclusion: A Social Analysis of Death-Related Photographs. Uses of Death-Related Photography. Distribution and Frequency of Occurrence. Motivation
Summary Ruby employs newspaper accounts, advertisements, letters, photographers' account books, interviews, and other material to determine why and how photography and death became intertwined in the nineteenth century. He traces this century's struggle between America's public denial of death and a deeply felt private need to use pictures of those we love to mourn their loss. Ruby compares photographs and other pictorial media of death, founding his interpretations on the discovery of patterns in the appearance of the images and a reconstruction of the conditions of their production and utilization
Sometimes thought to be a bizarre Victorian custom, photographing corpses has been and continues to be an important, if not recognized, occurrence in American life. It is a photographic activity, like the erotica produced in middle-class homes by married couples, that many privately practice but seldom circulate outside the trusted circle of close friends and relatives. Along with tombstones, funeral cards, and other images of death, these photographs represent one way in which Americans have attempted to secure their shadows
Death and the way society comes to terms with it have become a major area of scholarly and popular interest, as evidenced in the work of such well-known figures as Philippe Aries and Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. Photographs and other forms of pictorial imagery play an important role in these investigations. Secure the Shadow is an original contribution that lies at the intersection of cultural anthropology and visual analysis, a field that Jay Ruby's previous writings have helped to define. It explores the photographic representation of death in the United States from 1840 to the present, focusing on the ways in which people have taken and used photographs of deceased loved ones and their funerals to mitigate the finality of death
Analysis Photography Special subjects Death
United States
Photography Special subjects Death
United States
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references (pages [199]-203) and index
Subject Death in art.
Death -- Pictorial works.
Postmortem photography -- United States -- History -- 19th century.
Postmortem photography -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
Genre/Form Illustrated works.
LC no. 94023118
ISBN 0262181649