Looking Backward: A Photographic Portrait of the World at the Beginning of the Twentieth Century

Norton. Apr. 2017. 256p. illus.notes. ISBN 9780393239737. $49.95. PHOTOG
Photography scholar, author, and professor of literary journalism Lesy (Hampshire Coll., Long Time Coming: A Photographic Portrait of America, 1935–1943; Wisconsin Death Trip) brings a singular perspective to the study of historical photographs, offering sometimes shocking insights. Working with a collection of 3-D stereograph photos produced at the dawn of the 20th century and used as pedagogical tools in American schools, Lesy sees disturbing parallels between that era and our own, including ethnocentrism, cultural arrogance, militarism, and an overconfidence in dangerous, destructive technologies. The title implies a fond, nostalgic view of the past, but these images are anything but.

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