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Recent Publication Information for Sara  Blair


Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA


Sara Blair
Faculty Info


The latest volume in the Defining Moments in American Photography series, Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA proposes that we reconsider the work of the Farm Security Administration and its most beloved photographers in light of various forms of trauma in the 1930s. The authors offer new ways to understand this body of work by exploring a more variable idea of documentary photography than what the New Dealers proposed. Taking a critical look at the FSA photography project, they identify its goals, biases, contradictions, and ambivalences, while discerning strikingly independent directions among its photographers. Blair and Rosenberg discuss how, in the hands of socially minded photographers seeking to address and publicize suffering, photography and trauma mixed. In the volatility of that mixture, they argue, competing ideas for documentary took shape. Among the key figures studied here are some of the most beloved in American photography, including Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, and Aaron Siskind.

All recent publications by Sara  Blair

  • Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA
  • Harlem Crossroads: Black Writers and the Photograph in the Twentieth Century

All publications by Sara  Blair

Trauma and Documentary Photography of the FSA , co-authored with Eric Rosenberg (University of California Press, 2012); Harlem Crossroads: Black Writers and the Photograph in the Twentieth Century (Princeton University Press, 2007); Jewish in America, co-edited with Jonathan Freedman (University of Michigan Press, 2004); Henry James and the Writing of Race and Nation (Cambridge University Press, 1996; paperback 2009).

Selected essays:

"Night-Writing New York," in Detroit After Dark: Photographs from the Collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts, ed. Nancy Barr (DIA/Yale University Press, 2016), 21-33; “On Location: Hitchcock’s America and the Place of Illusion.”  In The Cambridge Companion to Alfred Hitchcock, ed. Jonathan Freedman. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2015; “Nation Time: Richard Wright, Black Power, and Photographic Modernism,” The Oxford Handbook of Global Modernisms, ed. Mark Wollaeger. Oxford University Press, 2012; “After the Fact: El libro negro, Traumatic Identities, and the War on Fascism.” Journal of Jewish Identities 5:1 (Winter 2012), 111-25; “Henry James, Race and Empire,” A Historical Guide to Henry James, ed. Eric Haralson and John Carlos Rowe.  Oxford University Press, 2012; “Visions of the Tenement: Photography and Modernity on the Lower East Side,” Images: A Journal of Jewish Art 4:1 (Winter 2011), 57-81; "The Politics of Modernism," The Cambridge Companion to Modernism, ed. Michael Levenson. Pp. 157-73.  Cambridge University Press, 2011; “The Photograph's Last Word: Visual Culture Studies Now,” American Literary History 22:3 (Fall 2010);  “About Time: Photographs and the Reading of History.” PMLA, Theories and Methodologies Forum 125:1 (January 2010); “The Photograph as History,” ELN 44:2 (Fall 2006); “Whose Modernism Is It? Abraham Cahan, Fictions of Yiddish, and the Contest of Modernity,” Modern Fiction Studies, special issue , “Modernism’s Jews/Jewish Modernisms 51:2 (Summer 2005), 258-84; “Ralph Ellison, Photographer,” Raritan 24:4 (Spring 2005), 21-44; “Ellison, Photography, and the Origins of Invisibility.” The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison, ed. Ross Posnock (NY: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 56-81; “Local Modernity, Global Modernism: Bloomsbury and the Places of the Literary,” ELH 71:3 (Fall 2004), 813-38; “Jewish America through the Lens: On Fictions of Photography,” reprinted in Jewish in America (University of Michigan Press, 2004), 113-34; “Bringing Modernism Home: Gertrude Stein, 27 Rue de Fleurus, and Geographies of the Avant-Garde.” American Literary History 12:3 (Fall 2000);  "Cultural Geography and the Place of Literary Studies." American Literary History 10:3 (Fall 1998), 544-67.

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