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On Writing with Photography$
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Karen Beckman and Liliane Weissberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780816674695

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816674695.001.0001

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From the Birth of Photography to the Death of the Author

From the Birth of Photography to the Death of the Author

(p.1) 1 From the Birth of Photography to the Death of the Author
On Writing with Photography

Marcy J. Dinius

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter explores what it means to write and be an author in the knowledge of photography by describing two fictional author-characters who refused to be photographed: Pierre from Herman Melville’s 1852 novel The Ambiguities and Bill Gray from Don DeLillo’s 1991 novel Mao II. It explains the significance for a modern author to write in resistance to, rather than in collaboration with, photography. The chapter concludes with an analysis of the mass mediation of an author’s face through photography, which alters the author function and renders writing as a practice more visible and tied to the physical being of a historical, embodied subject.

Keywords:   photography, Herman Melville, The Ambiguities, Don DeLillo, Mao II, mass mediation, writing

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