Colloquium: Portraits of Revolution: Photography, Political Violence, and Emotion in Revolutionary Russia, 1901-07

  • Date: Jun 21, 2022
  • Time: 05:00 PM
  • Speaker: Susan Morrissey, University of California, Irvine
  • Location: online
  • Host: Center for the History of Emotions

The Center for the History of Emotions at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, led by Prof. Dr. Ute Frevert, cordially presents its summer semester 2022 colloquium.

Susan Morrissey, University of California, Irvine

Portraits of Revolution: Photography, Political Violence, and Emotion in Revolutionary Russia, 1901-07

In the early twentieth century, Russia experienced three intertwined revolutions: a sociopolitical revolution in 1905-07 characterized by high levels of violence and some political reform; a revolution in photographic technology (from more portable cameras to cheap halftone printing); and a media revolution marked by the collapse of censorship and the unprecedented dissemination of new kinds of news, including photographs. In exploring the interplay of these three revolutions, this paper shows how the affective potential of photographs to solemnize a life and express public grievability was mobilized into revolutionary politics, sometimes in unexpected ways.

Spectatorship was an active process, and Russia’s unruly new public sphere offered ample room for contestation and experimentation, including the dissemination of photographs that proffered a forensic gaze, one that worked not to solemnize but to dehumanize.

Susan Morrissey is professor of history at the University of California, Irvine. A specialist in Russian history, she has published widely on the history of radicalism, suicide, and political violence. Her interest in the history of emotions is longstanding and includes most recently a critique of Steven Pinker’s thesis on the history of violence from the perspective of emotions history.

She is currently writing a book on media and political violence in early twentieth-century Russia.

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