Throughout U.S. history, presidents have participated in photography as subjects, producers, and consumers of photographs. We will explore how presidents have participated in key moments in the history of photography, from the first presidential images produced in the 19th century to the digital revolution of the 21st. From Washington to Obama, from daguerreotypes to selfies, the history of photographic presidents has a lot to tell us about who we are as Americans and what we value.
Cara Finnegan is a communication scholar and photography historian whose research explores the role of photography in public life. Her talk is based on her just-published book, Photographic Presidents: Making History from Daguerreotype to Digital (University of Illinois Press). She is the author of two other books of photography history, Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs (Smithsonian Books) and Making Photography Matter: A Viewer’s History from the Civil War to the Great Depression (University of Illinois Press). She is currently a professor of communication at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Finnegan’s ideas about visual politics have been featured in popular media outlets such as the New York Times, the BBC, Chicago Public Radio, and Vox.
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