Class, consumption and currency : commercial photography in mid-Victorian Scotland
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This thesis examines a thirty year span in the history of Scottish photography, focusing on the rise of the commercial studio from 1851 to assess how images were produced and consumed by the middle class in the mid-Victorian period. Using extensive archival material and a range of theoretical approaches, the research explores how photography was displayed, circulated, exploited and discussed in Scotland during its nascent years as a commodity. In doing so, it is unlike previous studies on Scottish photography that have not attended to the history of the medium as it is seen through exhibitions or the national journals, but instead have concentrated on explicating how an individual photographer or singular set of images are evidence of excellence in the field. While this thesis pays close attention to individual projects and studios, it does so to illuminate how photography functioned as a material object that equally shaped and was shaped by ideological constructs peculiar to mid-Victorian life in Scotland. It does not highlight particular photographers or works in order to elevate their standing in the history of photography but, rather, to show how they can be used as examples of a class phenomenon and provide an analytical frame for elucidating the cultural impact of commercial photography. Therefore, while the first two chapters provide a panoramic view of how photography was introduced to the Scottish middle class and how commercial photographers initially visualized Scotland, the second section is comprised of three ‘case studies’ that show how the subject of the city, the landscape and the portrait were turned into objects of cultural consumption. This allows for a re-appraisal of photographs produced in Scotland during this era to suggest the impact of photography’s products and processes was as vital as its visual content.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: Print and electronic copy restricted until 31st October 2014. Images in electronic copy restricted permanently. (Restriction now expired. Awaiting final permissions to release or further restrict full text)
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations
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