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Nature Exposed

Photography as Eyewitness in Victorian Science

Jennifer Tucker

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In Nature Exposed, Jennifer Tucker studies the intersecting trajectories of photography and modern science in late Victorian Britain. She examines the role of photograph as witness in scientific investigation and explores the interplay between photography and scientific authority.

Almost immediately after the invention of photography in 1839, photographs were characterized as offering objective access to reality—unmediated by human agency, political ties, or philosophy. This mechanical objectivity supposedly eliminated judgment and interpretation in reporting and picturing scientific results.…

In Nature Exposed, Jennifer Tucker studies the intersecting trajectories of photography and modern science in late Victorian Britain. She examines the role of photograph as witness in scientific investigation and explores the interplay between photography and scientific authority.

Almost immediately after the invention of photography in 1839, photographs were characterized as offering objective access to reality—unmediated by human agency, political ties, or philosophy. This mechanical objectivity supposedly eliminated judgment and interpretation in reporting and picturing scientific results.

But photography is a labor-intensive process that allows for, and sometimes requires, manipulation. In the late nineteenth century, the nature of this new technology sparked a complex debate about scientific practices and the value of the photographic images in the production and dissemination of scientific knowledge.

Recovering the controversies and commentary surrounding the early creation of scientific photography and drawing on a wide range of new sources and critical theories, Tucker establishes a greater understanding of the rich visual culture of Victorian science and alternative forms of knowledge, including psychical research.

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Nature Exposed

Jennifer Tucker

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Reviews

Reviews

The strength of the book lies in Tucker's analysis of the broad historical context in which scientific photography emerged in Victorian Britain.

Tucker's book is a challenging exploration of how, when, and under what conditions photography came to be seen as an enhanced representational tool for a range of scientific practices in Victorian Britain.

Nature Exposed tells us about our past, but has current resonance in our visually based culture and is a timely, interesting, and valuable book.

A useful book.

Tucker's brilliant study enlarges traditional concepts of photographic evidence by tying together the social processes and institutions that created the scientific photograph to the shift in the professional development of science itself.

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About

Book Details

Publication Date
Status
Available
Trim Size
6.125
x
9.25
Pages
312
ISBN
9781421410937
Illustration Description
68 halftones
Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Constructing Science and Brotherhood in Photographic Culture
2. Testing the Unity of Science and Fraternity
3. Acquiring a Scientific Eye
4. Photography of the Invisible
5

Acknowledgments
Introduction
1. Constructing Science and Brotherhood in Photographic Culture
2. Testing the Unity of Science and Fraternity
3. Acquiring a Scientific Eye
4. Photography of the Invisible
5. Photographic Evidence and Mass Culture
Epilogue: Photographic Evidence and Mass Culture
Notes
Essay on Sourcess
Index

Author Bio
Featured Contributor

Jennifer Tucker

Jennifer Tucker is an associate professor of history, science in society, and gender studies at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Boston Globe.