Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Binding Identities: Photograph Albums and Italian Nationalism, 1857-67

Coffineau, Nicole (2021) Binding Identities: Photograph Albums and Italian Nationalism, 1857-67. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

[img] PDF
Restricted to University of Pittsburgh users only until 3 May 2023.

Download (2MB) | Request a Copy


This dissertation considers the photograph album in Italy around the years surrounding its political unification in 1861. The histories of photography and collecting inform its methodologies, which seek to analyze the role of the album in the construction of identity and nationalism, and the politicization of the acts of seeing and exchanging photographs. I argue that albums functioned as framing devices to put visual fragments into relation with each other and with viewers in multivalent ways to generate or to position social and scientific knowledge. I am interested in mechanisms of othering or orientalizing that characterize the early development of Italian nationalism. By conceptually opposing the collection and the archive as categories, this dissertation generates novel methods for understanding the efficacies of the album as they derive from modernist aesthetic contexts, reflecting class politics during the revolutionary period. Three topical studies—which trace a single album produced to commemorate the military events of the Risorgimento; two stereograph albums by a French expatriate photographer in Sicily which respond to the same events, and a travel album by the same photographer; and two albums produced under diplomatic pretenses by Italian photographers in Qajar Persia—lay bare the function of the album as a vehicle for political and nationalist identity formation. Photography of the Italian Risorgimento provides perhaps the richest lab for this mode of art-historical experiment due to the prevalence of artistic patrimony within concepts of national identity that defined the initial years of the Italian Kingdom. I argue that the symbolic force of archaeology and artistic patrimony in photography outweighs the concrete reality of royal or official portraiture as a metonym for nationalism or otherness. I point out moreover how the implied or surrogate presence of the viewer finds a visual placeholder in depictions of Roman ruins in Sicily, and that the relevance of these sites is thus preserved within individual images. Attention to visual intimacy plays a major role in the definition of photographic orientalism that I develop, and in the theoretical armature that I generate for my analysis of narrative and temporality in photographic albums.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Coffineau, Nicolenscoffineau@gmail.comnsc17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEllenbogen, Joshjme23@pitt.edujme23
Committee MemberSmith, Terrytes2@pitt.edutes2
Committee MemberSavage, Kirkksa@pitt.eduksa
Committee MemberInsana, Linainsana@pitt.eduinsana
Date: 3 May 2021
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 2 October 2020
Approval Date: 3 May 2021
Submission Date: 1 April 2021
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 250
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History of Art and Architecture
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: photography, nineteenth century, italy, albums, collection, archive, grand tour, stereography, modernism
Date Deposited: 03 May 2021 15:04
Last Modified: 03 May 2021 15:04


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item