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Skåda all världens uselhet: Visuell pedagogik och reformism i det sena 1800-talets populärkultur
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Art History.
2013 (Swedish)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)Alternative title
Gruesome and dreadful sights : Visual pedagogy and reform in late nineteenth century popular culture (English)
Abstract [en]

This doctoral dissertation analyzes practices of looking within popular culture during the late nineteenth century. Visual attractions, illustrated press and traveling amusement shows included representations of social ills, such as poverty, criminality and prostitution. These representations were criticized in the Swedish public debate, because of their presumed negative impact on society. They were considered “far too realistic” and thus demoralizing, allegedly causing faulty ideals and creating inaccurate understandings of society. However, others emphasized the importance of beholding images, tableaus and depictions of this kind. I argue that by governing vision, certain practices of looking enabled otherwise problematic representations to become a valuable resource.

While the governing of vision in educational contexts has been frequently analyzed, the way in which vision was also governed in popular culture is less well understood. This is not surprising. At the time, it was often assumed that popular culture endangered the attentive spectator, generating an uncaring, detached mind. In addition, popular culture contained various representations of social ills, which were not educational in any obvious way. However, I argue that even these representations were potentially instructional. They were part of the creation of an orderly, responsible citizen – aware of the social problems generated by the rapidly developing society and aware of his or her responsibility to actively engage in their solutions. Hence, I argue that the governing of vision within popular culture became a means of social reform during the late nineteenth century.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Möklinta: Gidlunds förlag, 2013. , 200 p.
Keyword [en]
visuality, late 19th century popular culture, visual culture, visual pedagogy, media history, the social question, social reform, late 19th century Stockholm, the political technology of the body
Keyword [sv]
visualitet, det sena 1800-talets populärkultur, visuell kultur, visuell pedagogik, mediehistoria, den sociala frågan, socialreformism, sekelskiftets Stockholm, kroppens politiska teknologi
National Category
Art History
Research subject
Art History
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89294ISBN: 978-91-7844-870-8OAI: diva2:617002
Public defence
2013-05-31, hörsal 8, hus D, Universitetsvägen 10 D, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Available from: 2013-05-09 Created: 2013-04-19 Last updated: 2015-01-26Bibliographically approved

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Hällgren, Anna-Maria
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