What is it to practice history in an age in which photographs exist? What is the impact of photographs on the core historiographical practices which define the discipline and shape its enquiry and methods? In Photographs and the Practice of History, Elizabeth Edwards proposes a new approach to historical thinking which explores these questions and redefines the practices at the heart of this discipline.
Structured around key concepts in historical methodology which are recognisable to all undergraduates, the book shows that from the mid-19th century onward, photographs have influenced historical enquiry. Exposure to these mass-distributed cultural artefacts is enough to change our historical frameworks even when research is textually-based.
Conceptualised as a series of 'sensibilities' rather than a methodology as such, it is intended as a companion to 'how to' approaches to visual research and visual sources. Photographs and the Practice of History not only builds on existing literature by leading scholars: it also offers a highly original approach to historiographical thinking that gives readers a foundation on which to build their own historical practices.
About the Author
Elizabeth Edwards is Professor Emerita of Photographic History at De Montfort University, Leicester, where she was Director of the Photographic History Research Centre from 2011- 2016. She is also Andrew W. Mellon Professor at the Victoria and Albert Museum Research Institute, London, and Honorary Professor in the Department of Anthropology University College London. Until 2005 she was Curator of Photographs at Pitt Rivers Museum and lecturer in visual anthropology at ISCA, University of Oxford, where she is Curator Emerita and Research Affiliate. In 2015 she was the first photographic specialist to be elected a Fellow of the British Academy. She has worked extensively on the relationship between photography, anthropology and history, on photographs and material culture, and on the work of photographs in museums, notably in colonial legacies. She has received many awards for her work and, over the years, has been on the boards many leading journals and of major museum and archival institutions. In addition to over 100 articles and essays, her monographs and edited works include Raw Histories (2001), Sensible Objects (2006), The Camera as Historian: Amateur Photographers and Historical Imagination 1880-1918 (2012) and Photographs, Museums, Collections (2015).