Postgraduate Symposium  “Photographic Histories of Psychology”

25th November 2014

PHRC, de Montfort University

This symposium seeks to explore how photography and psychology have influenced each other throughout their histories. Its aim is twofold: to uncover how psychological notions have informed photographic practices, and to bring into light the historical role that photography has played in the making of psychological knowledge and its public dissemination.

The emergence of psychology as a scientific discipline and the popularization of photography occurred in parallel in the last third of the nineteenth century. Since then, photographs have been used in psychological experiments, and psychological theories of perception have been applied to understand the reception of photography. Whereas much research has been done on these topics, only sparse scholarly literature has attended to other aspects such as the role that photographic images played in the configuration of psychological and psychiatric thinking in the nineteenth century, and the ways in which psychological findings have penetrated into popular culture by means of photography.

Photographic Histories of Psychology will contribute to this scholarship by reflecting on how photographic materials have circulated through scientific and non-scientific contexts. It proposes to analyse the ways in which professional and amateur photography have historically appropriated, negotiated, rejected and disseminated psychological ideas. Rather than focusing on the notion of photographic representation or its meaning, we invite contributors to examine how, for example, psychological definitions of memory have affected the notion of the archive and the family album; how psychological theories on emotions have incited different gestures and expressions in front of the camera; and what role the illustrated press has played in the dissemination or depathologization of psychological disorders. Conversely, the event also seeks to examine how practices such as photographing, collecting photographs, or posing for the camera have penetrated into psychological discourses. How, for instance, particular uses of photography have inspired psychological research into historically specific patterns of behaviour.

Plenary Lecture: Dr. Mathew Thomson (University of Warwick) Photography and the Landscape of the Child in Twentieth Century Britain

We welcome original studies that focus on any historical period, carried out within the arts and humanities or the social sciences. While the event is open to scholars at any career level, we particularly encourage applications from postgraduate students and early career researchers. An abstract of no more than 300 words for a 20 minutes presentation, along with the title, name and affiliation, should be sent to Dr. Beatriz Pichel by 15 August 2014. Accepted papers will be notified by the 1 September.

 More information available here.


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