All Academic, Inc. Research Logo

Info/CitationFAQResearchAll Academic Inc.
Document

Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the 'Migrant Mother' Picture
Unformatted Document Text:  2 Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the ’Migrant Mother’ Picture Represented in Four Different Genres in The 1930s 1. Introduction From the beginning of photography history, a photographic image was believed as an unmediated copy of the real world. The belief was originally invented by the technological nature of photography -- capturing an image without human intervention. In this point of view, the photographic image was conceived as having only a meaning as it is - that is, a fixed meaning. Since the 1960s, this so-called myth, however, has faced a serious challenge. Roland Barthes (1977a), a French semiologist, emphasizes a ‘cultural context’ in the interpretation of a photographic meaning. He argues that the photograph does not just carry a denoted message, but also connoted meanings, which are culturally determined. Thus, according to Barthes, a photographic image is ‘polysemic,’ which means that it hosts several possible meanings instead of one fixed meaning. The polysemy of a photographic image is said to be controlled by the contexts in which the image is placed or used: internal and external. First, an internal context refers to caption, text, and/or other photographs encompassing a photograph. Second, an image’s external context is also considered as a determining condition of a photographic meaning. The external context is usually defined as an institutional channel, such as a newspaper, a magazine, billboard or museum gallery, through which a photograph is circulated or placed (Barret, 1996). That is, an individual image has meaning within a particular discourse which is created by its interaction with caption, text, and a presenting agency (Stange, 1981). This paper investigates, through a historical case study, how a photographic image embodies different meanings in respectively different discourses by analyzing its internal and external contexts. For this study, I chose Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ picture (Figure 1), which is said to be one of the most reproduced photographs in documentary history. The Migrant Mother picture, a photograph of a mother and three of her children in a migrant worker’s camp, was taken by Dorothea Lange. She worked for the Farm Security Administration that was created as a part of New Deal in the 1930s. She was documenting, with camera, migrant farm workers, who were driven by unemployment, drought, and the loss of farm tenancy. Among these photographic documents, the most impressive and moving work is the Migrant Mother picture (Fleischhauer & Brannan, 1988). In the Migrant Mother picture, mother’s right hand delicately touches her lower

Authors: Choi, Hyunju.
first   previous   Page 2 of 18   next   last



background image
2
Analysis of Discourses Encompassing the ’Migrant Mother’ Picture
Represented in Four Different Genres in The 1930s
1. Introduction
From the beginning of photography history, a photographic image was believed as
an unmediated copy of the real world. The belief was originally invented by the
technological nature of photography -- capturing an image without human intervention. In
this point of view, the photographic image was conceived as having only a meaning as it is
- that is, a fixed meaning. Since the 1960s, this so-called myth, however, has faced a
serious challenge. Roland Barthes (1977a), a French semiologist, emphasizes a ‘cultural
context’ in the interpretation of a photographic meaning. He argues that the photograph
does not just carry a denoted message, but also connoted meanings, which are culturally
determined. Thus, according to Barthes, a photographic image is ‘polysemic,’ which means
that it hosts several possible meanings instead of one fixed meaning.
The polysemy of a photographic image is said to be controlled by the contexts in
which the image is placed or used: internal and external. First, an internal context refers to
caption, text, and/or other photographs encompassing a photograph. Second, an image’s
external context is also considered as a determining condition of a photographic meaning.
The external context is usually defined as an institutional channel, such as a newspaper, a
magazine, billboard or museum gallery, through which a photograph is circulated or placed
(Barret, 1996). That is, an individual image has meaning within a particular discourse
which is created by its interaction with caption, text, and a presenting agency (Stange,
1981).
This paper investigates, through a historical case study, how a photographic image
embodies different meanings in respectively different discourses by analyzing its internal
and external contexts. For this study, I chose Dorothea Lange’s ‘Migrant Mother’ picture
(Figure 1), which is said to be one of the most reproduced photographs in documentary
history.
The Migrant Mother picture, a photograph of a mother and three of her children in
a migrant worker’s camp, was taken by Dorothea Lange. She worked for the Farm Security
Administration that was created as a part of New Deal in the 1930s. She was documenting,
with camera, migrant farm workers, who were driven by unemployment, drought, and the
loss of farm tenancy. Among these photographic documents, the most impressive and
moving work is the Migrant Mother picture (Fleischhauer & Brannan, 1988).
In the Migrant Mother picture, mother’s right hand delicately touches her lower


Convention
Convention is an application service for managing large or small academic conferences, annual meetings, and other types of events!
Submission - Custom fields, multiple submission types, tracks, audio visual, multiple upload formats, automatic conversion to pdf.
Review - Peer Review, Bulk reviewer assignment, bulk emails, ranking, z-score statistics, and multiple worksheets!
Reports - Many standard and custom reports generated while you wait. Print programs with participant indexes, event grids, and more!
Scheduling - Flexible and convenient grid scheduling within rooms and buildings. Conflict checking and advanced filtering.
Communication - Bulk email tools to help your administrators send reminders and responses. Use form letters, a message center, and much more!
Management - Search tools, duplicate people management, editing tools, submission transfers, many tools to manage a variety of conference management headaches!
Click here for more information.

first   previous   Page 2 of 18   next   last

©2012 All Academic, Inc.