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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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The Power of What Is Not There

The Power of What Is Not There

James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

(p.117) 6 The Power of What Is Not There
On Writing with Photography

Stuart Burrows

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter talks about James Agee’s photo-text Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, a study that focused on three “sharecropper” families in Alabama. Let Us Now Praise Famous Men translates into words the economy and simplicity of Walker Evan’s photographs, which featured local expressions of people found in unusual locations and portrayed the American scene from the 1920s to the early 1970s. The chapter concludes with an emphasis on Agee’s view of the unequal relation between writing and photography, claiming that Let Us Now Praise Famous Men would have been better if the book only compiled photographs with no writing at all.

Keywords:   James Agee, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, sharecropper, Walker Evan, American scene, writing, photography

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