Photographs, Histories, and Meanings

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Photographs have shaped public perception and social meaning for the last one hundred and fifty years or more. This collection reexamines photographs and their social history, exploring the ideological, ethical, political, and aesthetic forces that inflect interpretation. The authors here trace shifting historical contexts, intentional or accidental interpretive distortions, and ambiguous and multiple meanings. Collectively, they seek to know how images can be believed, given our awareness of the uncertainty of meaning. The contributors in this collection believe the histories they convey are the stories of our lives. To know the photographs is to know ourselves - with all our ambiguities, distortions, and complexities on display.