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Title: Alaska through the looking glass : and what twentieth century American photojournalists saw there
Author: Herrmann, Victoria Stephanie
ISNI:       0000 0004 7961 8961
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2019
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The following dissertation considers how journalists, photojournalists, editors, and correspondents reported on iconic events in Alaska in the 20th Century for American mass media outlets. The analysis posits that news images are vehicles by which the spaces of Alaska are produced and ordered for southern audiences. In this way, the analysis offers a reading of how southern news media, through visual storytelling and power conceptualization, constructed boundaries and differences between America and Alaska. As images enable people to examine and evaluate events and developments of a geography physically distant from their day to day lives, news visuals not only mediate events and developments in and about Alaska to a southern audience; images also reproduce the geography's meaning and power dynamics. Exploring past visual news frames of Alaska offers a pathway to understanding today's layered landscapes of Alaska as a place that both separates and connects conceptions of self and the other, of the domestic (inside) and foreign (outside) in America's geographic imagination. To accomplish this, five news moments in Alaska's twentieth century history are examined in this dissertation. Each media moment is considered in its own discussion chapter, so that Chapter One evaluates the Aleutian Islands Campaign (1942-1943); Chapter Two the construction of the Distant Early Warning System (1954-1957); Chapter Three the discovery of oil at Prudhoe Bay and subsequent assembly of petroleum transport infrastructure (1968-1977); Chapter Four the Exxon Valdez tanker oil spill (1989); and Chapter Five the debate to drill the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which begins in the twentieth century and extends into the twenty-first century (1980- 2017). In addition to an analysis of the aesthetic, thematic, representative, and cartographic discourses found in American media reporting of these events, Chapters One through Five include a contextualization of the news publications and outlets considered. An overview of the geographies of publication during each event offers a supplementary layer of context, both in the developments in America's media ecosystem and in the consequences those developments have had on how events are visually reported.
Supervisor: Bravo, Michael Sponsor: Gates Cambridge Scholarship
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Alaska ; Visual Culture ; Media Studies