På visit i verkligheten. Fotografi och kön i slutet av 1800-talet
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Abstract"Visiting Reality: Photography and Gender at the End of the Nineteenth Century" In the centre of the dissertation stands the photographic portrait. My point of departure has been to combine different theories of gender with an interest in photography. The aim has been to show how, during the period of 1850 to 1910, photographic portraits in different social and cultural relations contributed to formulating various images of what a woman was. To do this, I compare photographic portraits of women collected from archives of private photographers and pictures taken at a mental hospital and by police and in prisons. A normative pictorial language developed and the portraits were able to function as measures of the new bourgeoisie class's morality, aesthetic values, position, refinement and degree of civilisation. They were, above all, secure and stable representations of apparently unchanging women. However, the different portraits tell different stories of self-image and identity, repetition and change. They are pictures of how something was made visible or toned down, of what could be seen and how it could be seen, and of how acceptable information was generated through a presumed objective medium. Some of the photographers were able to turn their gaze from the image in itself and focus instead on the structures that are co-creators of images, and they used this technique to illustrate their attitude towards the understanding of the woman and towards the photograph as a medium. Through the dissertation's different portrait genres one can see that a symbolic investment was being made in images of women at the end of the nineteenth century. Photography had the possibility to create the stability that was being sought for in industrialism's Sweden. Through constant repetitions and references, certain images of women were established at the expense of others. The portraits were ideological and political tools and a way of maintaining old norms, ideals and conventions and creating new ones.