Due to the centrality of “war matters” in US history and culture, military iconography has always been a crucial dynamic in the relationship between consensus and the outcome of US military interventions. A recurrent and elastic visual component of US war master narratives is the representation of death on the battlefield, a classic topos in the Western tradition whose first photographic stage in the American culture was the US Civil War, the first conflict documented through daguerreotypes. By focusing on Civil war photography observed against the grain of early republic paintings of the American Revolution, I intend to analyze the cultural transformations determined by the advent of photography on the US perception of war in contrast with the pictorial tradition. My purpose is to demonstrate how such a shift implied a radical reshaping of the visual (and cultural) paradigm of death on the battlefield in terms of representability, fruition, and interaction with literature to the point where visuality ceased to be only inspired by literature and began to influence it. I propose a triangular scheme in which I confront the aesthetics and the ethos of the most well-known Civil war photos of dead soldiers with two famous paintings of the American Revolution which portray the subject, John Trumbull's The Death of Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, and The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775, and significant literary counterparts of their time-frames and modes of representation of the same theme.

Immortalizing death on the battlefield: US iconography of war from the american revolution to the civil war

Nicola Paladin
2018

Abstract

Due to the centrality of “war matters” in US history and culture, military iconography has always been a crucial dynamic in the relationship between consensus and the outcome of US military interventions. A recurrent and elastic visual component of US war master narratives is the representation of death on the battlefield, a classic topos in the Western tradition whose first photographic stage in the American culture was the US Civil War, the first conflict documented through daguerreotypes. By focusing on Civil war photography observed against the grain of early republic paintings of the American Revolution, I intend to analyze the cultural transformations determined by the advent of photography on the US perception of war in contrast with the pictorial tradition. My purpose is to demonstrate how such a shift implied a radical reshaping of the visual (and cultural) paradigm of death on the battlefield in terms of representability, fruition, and interaction with literature to the point where visuality ceased to be only inspired by literature and began to influence it. I propose a triangular scheme in which I confront the aesthetics and the ethos of the most well-known Civil war photos of dead soldiers with two famous paintings of the American Revolution which portray the subject, John Trumbull's The Death of Joseph Warren at the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, and The Death of General Montgomery in the Attack on Quebec, December 31, 1775, and significant literary counterparts of their time-frames and modes of representation of the same theme.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11564/714786
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