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15 June 2022 - 15 June 2022

2:00PM - 3:00PM

Online via Zoom

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The Centre for Nineteenth Century Studies welcomes Professor Jennifer Tucker with her online talk: 'Dangerous Exposures: Re-examining the Nineteenth-century Chemical Industry in the Age of Photography'

Abstract :

Photographs are often approached as dormant specimens -- indexical of the contexts in which they are embedded. But which contexts should be studied? And is the idea that photographs are "embedded" in contexts limiting for understanding the ways that they migrate and acquire new meanings through the process of being viewed - what geographer Gillian Rose has termed their "audiencing"?  Recent scholarship about the "materiality" of photography offers some methods and approaches to the study of photographs.  This talk will consider some of the complexities of environmental systems and stories that are still embedded in the landscape – long after many of the physical traces of the Victorian chemical industry have long since disappeared. It explores how photography emerged in Northwest England in the nineteenth-century as both a new mode of documenting chemical pollution and a technological process that was itself the product of a chemical industry that produced chemical waste and photographic pollution. The paper offers some findings about the role of photographs in the formation of scientific understandings and public perceptions of pollution and chemical hazard, considering their uses photographs both as historical records and as legal exhibits in Victorian court cases against the chemical industry over air and river pollution.

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