Cover image for Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century Edited by Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale

Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century

Edited by Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale


$94.95 | Hardcover Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-07915-8

$34.95 | Paperback Edition
ISBN: 978-0-271-07916-5

Available as an e-book

256 pages
7" × 10"
41 b&w illustrations

Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century

Edited by Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale

“A significant intervention into the longstanding constitution of the history of photography as a media-specific discipline.”


  • Description
  • Reviews
  • Bio
  • Table of Contents
  • Sample Chapters
  • Subjects
In this volume, leading scholars of photography and media examine photography’s vital role in the evolution of media and communication in the nineteenth century.

In the first half of the nineteenth century, the introduction of telegraphy, the development of a cheaper and more reliable postal service, the rise of the mass-circulation press, and the emergence of the railway dramatically changed the way people communicated and experienced time and space. Concurrently, photography developed as a medium that changed how images were produced and circulated. Yet, for the most part, photography of the era is studied outside the field of media history. The contributors to this volume challenge those established disciplinary boundaries as they programmatically explore the intersections of photography and “new media” during a period of fast-paced change. Their essays look at the emergence and early history of photography in the context of broader changes in the history of communications; the role of the nascent photographic press in photography’s infancy; and the development of photographic techniques as part of a broader media culture that included the mass-consumed novel, sound recording, and cinema.

Featuring essays by noteworthy historians in photography and media history, this discipline-shifting examination of the communication revolution of the nineteenth century is an essential addition to the field of media studies.

In addition to the editors, contributors to this volume are Geoffrey Batchen, Geoffrey Belknap, Lynn Berger, Jan von Brevern, Anthony Enns, André Gaudreault, Lisa Gitelman, David Henkin, Erkki Huhtamo, Philippe Marion, Peppino Ortoleva, Steffen Siegel, Richard Taws, and Kim Timby.

“A significant intervention into the longstanding constitution of the history of photography as a media-specific discipline.”
Photography and Other Media in the Nineteenth Century is a highly welcome addition to current debates on material culture and photography, while its single greatest achievement lies in successfully opening up this often academically marginalised medium to new interdisciplinary sociocultural, historical, economic, political, and media perspectives.”
“This groundbreaking volume embodies a major shift in the historiography of photography. These first-rate contributions bring to bear the intellectual resources of the numerous disciplines that must inform the holistic study of photography in the future. Taken together, a new approach emerges, one in which photography's status as a medium is not taken for granted and in which its boundaries are defined dynamically by its interactions with other forms of representation and communication in the nineteenth century.”
“This timely and refreshing book challenges the introspective ‘media exceptionalism’ that often accompanies photographic studies. Instead it places photography firmly within the broad field of cultures of communicative technology, from the telegraph to postal systems, enriching the understanding of all these entangled practices.”
“Provides fresh insights for the expanding potential of archival visual collections.”
“The approaches to intermediality explored in this volume resonate well beyond the history of photography, and beyond media history too. Positioned as a starting point with a call for further enquiries, this collection taps into the spirit of materials-focused, context-aware analysis in current scholarship and embraces a shift away from an emphasis on production contexts towards dissemination and reception. The potentially wide-ranging applications of this inclusive approach should have the desired impact of encouraging scholars in far-reaching disciplines to also engage with photography outside of art history in non-Western, non-visual, or contemporary digital contexts.”

Nicoletta Leonardi is Professor of Art History at Albertina Academy of Fine Arts, Turin, and the author of Il paesaggio americano dell’Ottocento: Pittori, fotografi e pubblico.

Simone Natale is Lecturer in Communication and Media Studies at Loughborough University and the author of Supernatural Entertainments: Victorian Spiritualism and the Rise of Modern Media Culture, also published by Penn State University Press.


List of Illustrations


Introduction (Nicoletta Leonardi and Simone Natale)

Part I: The Emergence of Modern Communications

1. Elephans Photographicus: Media Archaeology and the History of Photography (Erkki Huhtamo)

2. A Mirror with Wings: Photography and the New Era of Communications (Simone Natale)

3. The Traveling Daguerreotype: Early Photography and the U.S. Postal System (David M. Henkin)

4. The Telegraph of the Past: Nadar and the Time of Photography (Richard Taws)

5. With Eyes of Flesh and Glass Eyes: Railroad Image-Objects and Fantasies of Human-MachineHybridizations in the Mid-Nineteenth-Century United States (Nicoletta Leonardi)

Part II: Technologies of Reproduction

6. Peer Production in the Age of Collodion: The Bromide Patent and the Photographic Press, 1854–1868 (Lynn Berger)

7. Two or Three Things Photography Did to Painting (Jan von Brevern)

8. Uniqueness Multiplied: The Daguerreotype and the Visual Economy of the Graphic Arts (Steffen Siegel)

9. Photographs in Text: The Reproduction of Photographs in Nineteenth-Century Scientific Communication (Geoffrey Belknap)

Part III: Popular Cultures

10. In the Time of Balzac: The Daguerreotype and the Discovery/ Invention of Society (Peppino Ortoleva)

11. Sound Photography (Anthony Enns)

12. Photography, Cinema, and Perceptual Realism in the Nineteenth Century (Kim Timby)

13. The Double-Birth Model Tested Against Photography (Andre Gaudreault and Philippe Marion

Afterword: Media History and History of Photography in Parallel Lines (Geoffrey Batchen and Lisa Gitelman


List of Contributors