Paris and the cliché of history : the city and photographs, 1860-1970

Clark, Catherine E. (Catherine Eleanor), 1982- author

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  • Creator Catherine E. Clark
  • Format Books
  • Publication New York, NY : Oxford University Press, [2018] ©2018
  • Physical Details
    • xi, 310 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
  • ISBNs 9780190681647, 0190681640
  • OCLC on1040205258


  • "This book turns a compelling new lens on thinking about the history of Paris and photography. The invention of photography changed how history could be written. But the now commonplace assumptions--that photographs capture fragments of lost time or present emotional gateways to the past-- that structure today's understandings did not emerge whole cloth in 1839. Focusing on one of photography's birthplaces, 'Paris and the Cliché of History' tells the story of how photographs came to be imagined as documents of the past. Author Catherine E. Clark analyzes photography's effects on historical interpretation by examining the formation of Paris's first photo archives at the Musée Carnavalet and the city's municipal library, their use in illustrated history books and historical exhibitions and reconstructions such as the 1951 celebration of Paris's 2000th birthday, and the public's contribution to the historical record in amateur photo contests. Despite the photograph's growing importance in these forums, it did not simply replace older forms of illustration, visual documentation, or written text. Photos worked in complex and shifting relation to other types of pictures as photographers, popular historians, and publishers built on the traditions and iconography of painting and engraving in order to both document the past scientifically and objectively and to reconstruct it romantically. In doing so, they not only influenced how Parisians thought about the city's past and how they pictured it; they also ensured that these images shaped how Parisians lived their own lives--especially in deeply charged moments such as the Liberation after World War II. This history of picturing Paris does not simply reflect the city's history: it is Parisian history"--


  • Includes bibliographical references and index.


  • Introduction: Paris, photography, and history: 1860 to 1970 -- Imagination and evidence: visual history at Paris's municipal historical institutions -- Index and time: new forms and theories in photohistories -- Past and present: "repicturing" during the occupation and liberation of Paris -- Style and subjectivity: the Bimillénaire de Paris and the Parisian cliché -- "C'était Paris en 1970": amateur photography and the assassination of Paris -- Conclusion: looking back, looking forward: the vidéothèque de Paris
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