Eduardo Cadava

Eduardo Cadava is Professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History and Emerson and the Climates of History, and the coeditor of Who Comes after the Subject?, Cities without Citizens, and The Itinerant Languages of Photography. He also has introduced and cotranslated Nadar's memoir, Quand j'étais photographe, published by the MIT Press as When I Was a Photographer.

  • Paper Graveyards

    Paper Graveyards

    Eduardo Cadava

    A generously illustrated training manual for reading images, discussing work by Félix Nadar, Roland Barthes, Fazal Sheikh, Susan Meiselas, and others.

    Paper Graveyards is neither a work of traditional art history nor one of literary criticism. It is not strictly a history of ideas either, notwithstanding its very obvious erudition. Rather, in drawing upon all of these methods and approaches—and with extraordinary attention to language and style—Cadava's writing examines the spectacular explosion of images during the last twenty years as a prompt to discuss not simply specific images but the role and place of these images in our everyday life.

    Considering work by Félix Nadar, Roland Barthes, Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, Fazal Sheikh, Susan Meiselas, and others, Cadava delineates different modes of reading that, taking their point of departure from the conviction that the past, the present, and the future are always bound together, provide us with a training manual of sorts for understanding visual material in the twenty-first century. In the process, these generously illustrated essays actively expand our sense of literacy by reconstructing the networks of relations that inhabit the plural worlds of images, and create a critical genealogy of what we still call “an image,” even when, with every day that passes, we perhaps understand less and less what this might mean.

    • Hardcover $49.95

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  • When I Was a Photographer

    When I Was a Photographer

    Félix Nadar

    The first complete English translation of Nadar's intelligent and witty memoir, a series of vignettes that capture his experiences in the early days of photography.

    Celebrated nineteenth-century photographer—and writer, actor, caricaturist, inventor, and balloonist—Félix Nadar published this memoir of his photographic life in 1900 at the age of eighty. Composed as a series of vignettes (we might view them as a series of “written photographs”), this intelligent and witty book offers stories of Nadar's experiences in the early years of photography, memorable character sketches, and meditations on history. It is a classic work, cited by writers from Walter Benjamin to Rosalind Krauss. This is its first and only complete English translation.

    In When I Was a Photographer (Quand j'étais photographe), Nadar tells us about his descent into the sewers and catacombs of Paris, where he experimented with the use of artificial lighting, and his ascent into the skies over Paris in a hot air balloon, from which he took the first aerial photographs. He recounts his “postal photography” during the 1870-1871 Siege of Paris—an amazing scheme involving micrographic images and carrier pigeons. He describes technical innovations and important figures in photography, and offers a thoughtful consideration of society and culture; but he also writes entertainingly about such matters as Balzac's terror of being photographed, the impact of a photograph on a celebrated murder case, and the difference between male and female clients. Nadar's memoir captures, as surely as his photographs, traces of a vanished era.

    • Hardcover $26.95
  • Photography Degree Zero

    Photography Degree Zero

    Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida

    Geoffrey Batchen

    An essential guide to an essential book, this first anthology on Camera Lucida offers critical perspectives on Barthes's influential text.

    Roland Barthes's 1980 book Camera Lucida is perhaps the most influential book ever published on photography. The terms studium and punctum, coined by Barthes for two different ways of responding to photographs, are part of the standard lexicon for discussions of photography; Barthes's understanding of photographic time and the relationship he forges between photography and death have been invoked countless times in photographic discourse; and the current interest in vernacular photographs and the ubiquity of subjective, even novelistic, ways of writing about photography both owe something to Barthes. Photography Degree Zero, the first anthology of writings on Camera Lucida, goes beyond the usual critical orthodoxies to offer a range of perspectives on Barthes's important book.

    Photography Degree Zero (the title links Barthes's first book, Writing Degree Zero, to his last, Camera Lucida) includes essays written soon after Barthes's book appeared as well as more recent rereadings of it, some previously unpublished. The contributors' approaches range from psychoanalytical (in an essay drawing on the work of Lacan) to Buddhist (in an essay that compares the photographic flash to the mystic's light of revelation); they include a history of Barthes's writings on photography and an account of Camera Lucida and its reception; two views of the book through the lens of race; and a provocative essay by Michael Fried and two responses to it. The variety of perspectives included in Photography Degree Zero, and the focus on Camera Lucida in the context of photography rather than literature or philosophy, serve to reopen a vital conversation on Barthes's influential work.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $35.00