Department of Art History
2015 to 2016
“The fraternity throughout the world”: American and German Photography, Interactions from 1840 to 1890
Through a series of case studies, each set against a backdrop of changing American perceptions of Germany and German immigration to the US, this dissertation sheds new light on Germany’s presence in and influence on American photographic discourse and technology. My project embraces a transatlantic approach to the history of the medium by understanding the technology as a vehicle of cross-cultural dialogue that operated through patent sales, published writings, exhibitions, technological innovations, photographers, and the photographs they produced. In the last decades of the nineteenth century, the United States came to dominate the world of photographic technology, leading to such developments as the Kodak camera and the industrialization of dry-plate manufacture. This dissertation suggests that the great access to German technical developments through a culture of exchange, fostered by immigration, set the stage for American photo-technical dominance in the late nineteenth century forward.