Wednesday, April 20, 2016


This afternoon and evening at the National Humanities Center, a conference on 1927.  I'm still not quite sure why 1927, other than it came out of a couple of people's lunchtime conversation about the overlap between their work (and indeed, their papers - Martin Berger on The Jazz Singer and Tim Carter on Showboat, both talking about race in these works, were fascinating).  I talked about Siegfried Kracauer's "Die Photographie," an essay that always wriggles away from me when I try and look at it carefully, so it was really good to sit down and work out what he was saying in it, and what matters: his interest in the proliferation of images at the time; his concern with vernacular/domestic photography; his consideration of the difference between photography and memory, and the relationship of both to history.  I was so struck by his ambivalence towards photography - and yet, he's so pioneering in his determination to take photography as something that provokes thought, and that one needs to be continually interrogating, in order to see what work it's actually doing.

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