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Title: Capturing the image : writing and photography in British literary culture, 1880-1920
Author: Ennis, Emily Siobhan Behan
ISNI:       0000 0004 6061 2260
Awarding Body: University of Leeds
Current Institution: University of Leeds
Date of Award: 2016
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This dissertation explores the developing relationship between British literary culture and photography between 1880 and 1920. I argue that popular photography and British writing co-evolved during this period, primarily as a result of increasing mass dissemination of both media. The jointly-developing literary and photographic marketplaces were perceived by many writers, including Thomas Hardy, as a threat to the position of the author since both photography and cheap serial publications aimed to capture the image of everyday lives of everyday people, a position previously and supposedly held by British writers. I propose that authors were forced to redefine both their professional identities and their writing style. In order to argue this, I focus on four authors, who, despite their stylistic differences, contribute in meaningful ways to the conceptualisation of British literary culture in the wake of photography’s popularisation. These authors are Thomas Hardy, Bram Stoker, Joseph Conrad, and Virginia Woolf. As a new generation of writers they confronted photographic images in their private lives, and often their professional lives through their portraits as literary celebrities. I include non-fiction prose by each author – essays, correspondence, journal entries, and (auto)biography – in order to demonstrate how their encounters with real photographs shaped their literary and imaginative engagement with them. The fiction which I discuss in this dissertation is not ostensibly about photography, nor does it include photographs. Rather, such texts contain ekphrastic accounts of photographs, which examine the limits of representation itself. I propose that it is the personal and material relationships each author has with photographs that transform their representations of photographic images within their fiction. The variety in styles of prose produced by this collection of authors demonstrates that photography was not simply a challenge to literary realists, but to literary culture in general.
Supervisor: Ray, Nicholas ; Bennett, Bridget Sponsor: AHRC
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available