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Reading Magnum


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Table of Contents

Foreword (Geoff Dyer)

Introduction. Decisive Moments and Caustic Comments: Reading the Magnum Archive (Steven Hoelscher)

1. On Becoming an Archive (Alison Nordstroem)

Notes from the Archive: Philip Jones Griffiths's Vietnam Inc.

2. War and Conflict through Magnum's Eyes (Barbie Zelizer)

War and Conflict Portfolio

Notes from the Archive: Eve Arnold's Black Muslims

3. The Face Redrawn: Magnum Portraits (Frank H. Goodyear III)

Portraiture Portfolio

Notes from the Archive: Alex Webb's Crossings: Photographs from the U.S.-Mexico Border

4. Magnum's Geographies: Toward a Progressive Sense of Place (Steven Hoelscher)

Geography Portfolio

Notes from the Archive: Susan Meiselas's Carnival Strippers

5. Hollywood Stars, High-Paid Llamas, and Car Shows: Magnum's Cultural Project (Erika Doss)

Cultural Life Portfolio

Notes from the Archive: Cornell Capa's Attica

6. Seeing the Stranger in the Mirror: Everyday Life in Magnum's Public World (Robert Hariman)

Social Relations Portfolio

Notes from the Archive: David "Chim" Seymour's Children of Europe

7. Magnum's Global Enterprise (Liam Kennedy)

Globalization Portfolio



Illustration Credits


About the Author

Steven Hoelscher is Professor of American Studies and Geography at the University of Texas at Austin. He regularly teaches graduate seminars on the history of photography at the Harry Ransom Center, where he is Academic Curator of Photography. Hoelscher's books include Picturing Indians: Photographic Encounters and Tourist Fantasies in H. H. Bennett's Wisconsin Dells; Textures of Place: Exploring Humanist Geographies; and Heritage on Stage: The Invention of Ethnic Place in America's Little Switzerland. Geoff Dyer's many books include The Ongoing Moment (winner of the International Center of Photography's prestigious Infinity Award for Writing/Criticism), But Beautiful (winner of the Somerset Maugham Prize), Out of Sheer Rage (shortlisted for a National Book Critics Circle Award), The Missing of the Somme, the novel Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi, and the essay collection Otherwise Known as the Human Condition (winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award). His latest book is White Sands: Experiences from the Outside World. A recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship, the E. M. Forster Prize and, most recently, the Windham-Campbell Prize for nonfiction, Dyer is an honorary fellow of Corpus Christi College, Oxford; a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His books have been translated into twenty-four languages. Dyer is currently writer-in-residence at the University of Southern California.


"There are more than 200,000 photographs just from the New York office of Magnum, the legendary photo cooperative (Magnum has four offices around the globe). Drawing from that archive, American Studies scholar Steven Hoelscher and other contributors mine the images (of war, social upheaval, celebrities: you name it) for insight into how photography has influenced our world, and vice-versa. With photos from major photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson, Eve Arnold, Robert Capa, among others." - Kirkus "In Reading Magnum: A Visual Archive of the Modern World - which Photo Magazine recently named Book of the Year, - Hoelscher and a team of seven international scholars offer an in-depth account of the Magnum photographs as they are shuffled around from one publication to another and viewed in a wide range of contexts." - Life and Letters "This book has seven definitive chapters as well as an introduction that offers us an overview of how the archive might be read. Some of the chapters deal with particular genres: portraits, war, celebrity shots; while other cover generic subjects: globalization, everyday life, geography, and a sense of place. They are all lavishly and appropriately illustrated [...] All the chapters are well researched and interestingly written and provide a useful introduction to the superb body of work contained within the archive." - Exposure "Each chapter begins with an authoritative interpretative text, followed by a picture portfolio that often includes data regarding the original assignments or their first appearance in published form [...] it is a meaningful accompaniment to monographs on the individual photographers. Summing Up: Recommended" - Choice

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