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Personal Photography from Kodak to Polaroid to the iPhone

Marita Sturken

Marita Sturken

Media, Culture, and Communication (MCC) professor Marita Sturken has been awarded a 2023 Guggenheim Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. She is the third MCC faculty member since 2019 to receive this distinction.

The fellowship will support the completion of Sturken's book on the history of personal photography in the United States. Picturing Abundance: Personal Photography from Kodak to Polaroid to the iPhone approaches this history from the late 19th century, when the amateur photographic market begins, through the 20th century with the rise of the instant Polaroid image, to digital picture taking practices of today.

Sturken, a scholar of visual culture who teaches seminars on consumer culture and cultural memory among other topics, is interested in the role of advertising and marketing by camera manufacturers, and later software programmers, smartphone designers, and social media platforms, in shaping the kinds of pictures people take in their everyday lives.

These consumer practices turned photography into a vehicle through which to construct public and private selves, to structure family coherence (through an endless series of "Kodak moments"), and to define what is memorable and worthy of sharing.

Sturken is the author of Terrorism in American Memory: Memorials, Museums, and Architecture in the Post-9/11 Era (NYU Press, 2022); Tourists of History: Memory, Kitsch, and Consumerism from Oklahoma City to Ground Zero (Duke University Press, 2007); Thelma & Louise (British Film Institute, 2000); and Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic, and the Politics of Remembering (University of California Press, 1997). She has also co-authored, with Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture (Oxford University Press, Third Edition, 2018).

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Media, Culture, and Communication

Our media studies programs train agile researchers of a shifting media landscape. Learn to analyze media and technology in their cultural, social, and global contexts.

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