American Constructions of Photography / Photographic Constructions of America 

Iperstoria, Monographic Section, Spring/Summer 2018, edited by Serena Fusco (University of Naples “L’Orientale”, and Mauro Pala (University of Cagliari,  


The history of the relationship between “America” and photography is one of mutual reference and construction. From Poe and Hawthorne’s interest for the new medium in its stylistic as well as social, even political implications, to Henry James’s photography-informed speculations on the flattening, almost indistinct quality of the (democratic) American scene when contrasted with the European one, to Susan Sontag’s definition of America as the “quintessential Surrealist” and hence most “photographic” country – the way we perceive and define “America” has been substantially informed not only by photographs themselves, but also by what we consider – while the medium inevitably undergoes technical transformations, and photographic style and products change over time – as intrinsically or quintessentially photographic. The obverse of this statement is also valid: the history of photography is informed by “America”, to the extent that conceptual items and material practices often associated with “America”– such as, for instance, the idea of a democratic vision and encompassing representativeness – have also influenced the way we conceive of photography.

We invite contributions on how photography – in/by itself or (re)mediated by other codes and media such as literature, cinema, comics, and more – accompanies or creates various ways of conceiving of “America”; and/or on how the way we regard photography is (paraphrasing Bourdieu while turning him on his head) validated by “American” categories. Within this framework, “America” oscillates between a real entity (which can be captured by the camera) and a floating signifier (orienting the camera in its relationship to its referents).

Related (sub)topics may include, while not being limited to:

America and the history of photography

American literature and photography

Photo-informed representations of America in other literatures / cultures

Photography, modernism, and postmodernism

Photography, reality, and realism

Photography, class, and democracy

Photography and cultural identity

Intermediality and photography

Deadline for proposals to editors (title and abstract, max. 250 words, accompanied by a short author biographical note): January 25, 2018

Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2018

Essay due to editors: March 15, 2018

Submitted essays will undergo a peer-review process.

Contributions (max. 35.000 characters, spaces included) can be in English or Italian. Please refer to the Iperstoriawebsite for stylesheet: