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Lynching Photographs [Paperback]

Dora Apel , Shawn Michelle Smith

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Book Description

Jan. 5 2008 Defining Moments in American Photography (Book 2)
Why do we look at lynching photographs? What is the basis for our curiosity, rage, indignation, or revulsion? Beginning in the late nineteenth century, nearly five thousand blacks were put to death at the hands of lynch mobs throughout America. In many communities it was a public event, to be witnessed, recorded, and made available by means of photographs. In this book, the art historian Dora Apel and the American Studies scholar Shawn Michelle Smith examine lynching photographs as a way of analyzing photography's historical role in promoting and resisting racial violence. They further suggest how these photographs continue to affect the politics of spectatorship. In clear prose, and with carefully chosen images, the authors chart the history of lynching photographs—their meanings, uses, and controversial display—and offer terms in which to understand our responsibilities as viewers and citizens.

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From the Inside Flap

"A lucid, smart, engaging, and accessible introduction to the impact of lynching photography on the history of race and violence in America. "—Grace Elizabeth Hale, author of Making Whiteness: The Culture of Segregation in America, 1890-1940

"With admirable courage, Dora Apel and Shawn Michelle Smith examine lynching photographs that are horrifying, shameful, and elusive; with admirable sensitivity they help us delve into the meaning and legacy of these difficult images. They show us how the images change when viewed from different perspectives, they reveal how the photographs have continued to affect popular culture and political debates, and they delineate how the pictures produce a dialectic of shame and atonement."—Ashraf H. A. Rushdy, author of Neo-Slave Narratives and Remembering Generations

"This thoughtful and engaging book offers a highly accessible yet theoretically sophisticated discussion of a painful, complicated, and unavoidable subject. Apel and Smith, employing complementary (and sometimes overlapping) methodological approaches to reading these images, impress upon us how inextricable photography and lynching are, and how we cannot comprehend lynching without making sense of its photographic representations."—Leigh Raiford, co-editor of The Civil Rights Movement in American Memory

"Our newspapers have recently been filled with photographs of mutilated, tortured bodies from both war fronts and domestic arenas. How do we understand such photographs? Why do people take them? Why do we look at them? The two essays by Apel and Smith address photographs of lynching, but their analysis can be applied to a broader spectrum of images presenting ritual or spectacle killings."—Frances Pohl, author of Framing America: A Social History of American Art

About the Author

Dora Apel is Associate Professor and W. Hawkins Ferry Chair in Modern and Contemporary Art at Wayne State University. She is the author of Memory Effects: The Holocaust and the Art of Secondary Witnessing (2002) and Imagery of Lynching: Black Men, White Women, and the Mob (2004). Shawn Michelle Smith is Associate Professor of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the author of American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture (1999) and Photography on the Color Line: W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and Visual Culture (2004).

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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
13 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Americans lynching Americans Aug. 7 2010
By Joseph H. Warren - Published on Amazon.com
One thing that has managed to avoid the standard history books of the United States is the way that African Americans were denied basic human rights from the end of slavery times until federal legislation finally was passed by the congress during the Lyndon Johnson administration. My parents lived during this difficult time, and they always knew that "lynching" of fellow African Americans was a very real "current" event to them, that would occur, mainly in the south, or would occur to their relatives if, for whatever reason, the local white community determined that they deserved to be tortured and murdered without the due process of law. One of my neighbors, Emett Till, a 14 year old boy from Chicago, while visiting relatives in Money Mississippi, was "lynched" by a group of white men in 1955, when he was perceived as a "threat" to the local white community. These men who did the lynching were tried by an all white jury and never convicted of their crimes, and had the nerve to boast about what they did (torture and lynch) this teenager days later in the national media. To this day, none of these murderers have spent any time in jail. So, it would benifit all of us if the practice of lynching in the United States were be part of standard American high school teaching. This book, along with the book "Without Sanctuary", must be part of "standard" high school education in the United States.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering Nov. 3 2012
By Steven G. Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is a sobering reminder of a not so distant American past. This shows the brutality and violence that was lynching. Lynching was the number one fear of every African American at one time in America and to this day a very ugly reminder that race relations in this country have been predicated on fear, violence and ignorance. This book was helpful when I wrote a term paper on LYNCHING AND VIOLENCE AGAINST AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE EARLY 20TH CENTURY. I earned a A on that paper from a Professor who studied under Woodrow Wilson's history instructor at University of Pacific. He is really old school and I came with the facts.

**RECOMMENDED FOR African American studies majors, Sociology majors and Race Relations studies as well as Political Science.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very small book...100 pages May 18 2013
By Richard Burden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
There are about 5 or 6 photos.
Pages 1- 10 Introduction.
The 5 or 6 photos are repeated once or twice.
The last 30 pages are notes.
I'm going to try a different book.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent July 30 2013
By KriticalKustomer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If you are a student of history or want to understand the roots of discrimination in America, you simply can't go through your life without reading this book
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars thought-provoking Dec 20 2013
By yawoods - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The pictures took me back to the time in which these senseless killings occurred. It's sad truth and necessary to see to avoid history repeating itself.

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