Research Programs: Public Scholars

Period of Performance

1/1/2016 - 12/31/2016

Funding Totals

$50,400.00 (approved)
$50,400.00 (awarded)

Caught on Camera: A History of Photographic Detection and Evasion

FAIN: FZ-231520-15

Jennifer G. Tucker
Wesleyan University (Middletown, CT 06459-3208)

A book-length study of the development of photographic detection, surveillance, and evasion from the 19th century to the present.

"Caught on Camera" will chart the historical transformation of photographic detection, surveillance, and evasion from the 19th century to today. It spans photography's early uses in the capture of facial likenesses through the rise of today's sophisticated facial recognition systems. The book explores how the threats to individual privacy and identity posed by corporate and state surveillance techniques were confronted by earlier generations. From the mugshot to Big Brother, from the family album to the selfie, photography has served both as a source of empowerment and social control. Written in an accessible style for a general reader, the book will demonstrate how study of the past can shed new light on contemporary debates over a topic of public concern. It will contribute to the humanities by integrating modes of analysis that are often disparate, combining the history of science and technology with political history, legal studies, social and cultural history, and visual studies.

Media Coverage

(Media Coverage)
Author(s): Michael Roth
Publication: Washington Post
Date: 7/28/2015
Abstract: Coverage of the NEH Public Scholar Award 2015

Associated Products

HIST 286/ARHA 264 Photography and Law: Mugshots, Privacy and Publicity, Obscenity, Evidence (Course or Curricular Material)
Title: HIST 286/ARHA 264 Photography and Law: Mugshots, Privacy and Publicity, Obscenity, Evidence
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Abstract: Course Description: This seminar is designed as an introduction to the major developments in the legal history of photography in transatlantic (US-UK especially) society from the first law cases involving photography in 1840 through to contemporary legal debates about such topics as cameras in the courtroom, sexting, surveillance, photographing police, dash cam and body cam videos, admissibility of photographs as evidence, obscenity and moral boundaries of subject matter, and copyright. A range of secondary historical and theoretical writings will anchor the discussions, but the course will focus primarily on student analysis and interpretation of primary and archival sources (texts of legal cases, law reviews and dissertation, news articles and documentary and video footage). Students will gain knowledge of how legal history has shaped the history of photography, and new perspectives on the historical origins of contemporary issues in photography and digital imaging. It should be of interest especially to history majors and non-majors who are interested in law, photography, and culture and will also contribute to the "Visual and Material Studies" module in History.
Year: 2017
Audience: Undergraduate

'Law and Photography: Mugshots, Passports and Portraiture' (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: 'Law and Photography: Mugshots, Passports and Portraiture'
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Abstract: The history of photography and the legal presentation of documentary proof enjoyed a complex relationship from the nineteenth century onwards, which was variously fuelled by pragmatism and suspicion. This workshop aims to examine the ways in which photographic technologies have contributed, both practically and symbolically, to the construction of particular legal, evidential and affective modes of vision. Criminal mugshots, passport photographs and other forms of official and domestic styles of photographing the face will be considered in their historical and geographical contexts and in relation to forms of gendered colonial and post-colonial identity. The workshop will be informal and structured around 30-minute papers, with generous time for discussion amongst the audience.
Date: 07/02/2016
Primary URL:
Conference Name: A workshop co sponsored by The Birkbeck History and Theory of Photography Research Centre, The Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities and the Department of Law, LSE.

"The Evidence of Camera Pictures" in Documenting the World: (Book Section)
Title: "The Evidence of Camera Pictures" in Documenting the World:
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Editor: Kelley Wilder and Gregg Mitman
Abstract: 'Documenting the World' is about the material and social life of photographs and film made in the scientific quest to document the world. Drawing on scholars from the fields of art history, visual anthropology, and science and technology studies, the chapters in this book explore how this documentation—from the initial recording of images, to their acquisition and storage, to their circulation—has altered our lives, our ways of knowing, our social and economic relationships, and even our surroundings. Far beyond mere illustration, photography and film have become an integral, transformative part of the world they seek to show us.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Publisher: University of Chicago Press
Book Title: Documenting the World: Film, Photography and the Scientific Record
ISBN: 9780226129112

"The Depiction of Popular Science in Victorian Illustrated News” (Article)
Title: "The Depiction of Popular Science in Victorian Illustrated News”
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Abstract: While the importance of visual representation in the history of scientific discovery is widely acknowledged today by historians of science, little attention has been paid to how readers of newspapers also became viewers of science. This paper explores the historical role of British illustrated weekly newspapers in crafting popular visual depictions of science through their coverage of the annual meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (BAAS) during the second half of the nineteenth century. Presenting selected images of annual BAAS gatherings that appeared in The Illustrated London News and the Graphic magazine from 1840 to 1880, it suggests that the choices that Victorian news artists made in representing popular scientific gatherings tended to reinforce an image of popular science as embedded in middle-class and affluent society and leisure culture?(in contrast to alternative contemporary images of science as dangerously isolated from ordinary life. The term “popular science” attained widespread use in Victorian society, though the exact notion of what popular science was, who practiced it, and what it was for, has changed over time.
Year: 2016
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Historia Scientiarum: International Journal of the History of Science Society of Japan

'Dangerous Earth': Lightning, Episode 3 of 6 (Film/TV/Video Broadcast or Recording)
Title: 'Dangerous Earth': Lightning, Episode 3 of 6
Writer: Eileen Inkson and Helen Czerski
Director: Eileen Inkson
Producer: Eileen Inkson
Abstract: Dr. Helen Czerski examines the hottest natural phenomena on the planet - lightning. Bolts of lightning five times hotter than the surface of the sun strike our planet over 3 million times every day - and yet we still know little about this deadly force of nature. I was interviewed about the history of specialist photography and talked about it has been used to reveal how lightning travels through the air, how high-speed cameras are unlocking the secrets of upward lightning that's triggered by our urban landscapes, and how scientific expeditions are capturing rare images of intense electrical discharges over 80 kilometres wide.
Year: 2016
Primary URL:
Format: Other

“Visual and Material Studies,” (Book Section)
Title: “Visual and Material Studies,”
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Editor: Rohan McWilliam, Lucy Noakes, and Andy Wood
Abstract: The late artist and critic John Berger once wrote that to see art was to be situated in history and that, conversely, when prevented from seeing what he called “the art of the past,” “we are being deprived of the history which belongs to us.” By analyzing both the highbrow (e.g., the Old Masters) and the lowbrow (e.g., advertisements), historians and critics have pioneered new ways of seeing and doing history and opened the world’s eyes to the power of visual experience and knowledge as historical topics. This chapter sketches a few of the primary visual tools and methods that have been advanced in visual and social and cultural history research in recent years, in order to encourage more work in this field. After identifying key shifts and recent developments in the theory and methodology of visual and material history in the past several decades, it concludes by suggesting some future developments.
Year: 2017
Primary URL:
Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic Press
Book Title: New Directions in Social and Cultural History

‘Firearms and the Common Law: History and Memory’ (Conference/Institute/Seminar)
Title: ‘Firearms and the Common Law: History and Memory’
Author: Jennifer Tucker
Abstract: “Firearms and the Common Law Tradition” was a by-invitation symposium hosted by The Aspen Institute in Washington, DC on Thursday, September 15, 2016, on the history of firearms in society, law and culture. The event was hosted by the Institute’s Health, Medicine and Society Program and supported by funds from Stanford University and Wesleyan University. It was convened by Jennifer Tucker (Associate Professor of History and Science in Society at Wesleyan University) and Barton C. Hacker and Margaret Vining (Curators of Armed Forces History at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History), and brought together not only a select and bipartisan group of historians, but also museum curators, legal scholars, and other experts in the field to explore this important and timely topic. In this symposium, papers explored the history of guns and gun regulation in the common law tradition, with a focus on U.S. history but also with an interdisciplinary and comparative lens. The symposium also addressed topics such as the current state of historical scholarship on firearms history, resources and collaborative research opportunities, and promising areas for future research. The event also included a conversation moderated by Nina Totenberg (NPR) with two eminent legal scholars, Darrell Miller (Professor of Law, Duke University School of Law) and Eugene Volokh (Gary T. Schwartz, Professor of Law, University of California, Los Angeles School of Law), who addressed how and why historical arguments have become important for the judicial debate about guns in America. On the afternoon before the symposium, September 14th, there was a guided tour of the National Firearms Collection at the Smithsonian Museum of American History. The conference resulted in a manuscript proposal and a round-table discussion with museum curators from six firearms collections that will be published in Technology and Culture journal (2017).
Date Range: Sept. 14-15, 2016
Location: The Aspen Institute, Washington DC.
Primary URL:
Secondary URL: