Flirting with photography: Henry James and photographic exchange

Clayton, Owen (2017) Flirting with photography: Henry James and photographic exchange. History of Photography, 41 (4). pp. 329-342. ISSN 0308-7298

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Flirting with photography: Henry James and photographic exchange
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Like many authors of the long nineteenth-century period, Henry James was both fascinated and troubled by photography’s capacity to extend social relations across distance and time. As this article will show, in The Awkward Age (1899) and ‘Crapy Cornelia’ (1909) he represents photography as enabling new forms of virtual flirtation. The Awkward Age projects its protagonist, an adolescent girl named Nanda, into a network of photographic exchange. This leads to serious problems when her mother seeks to win Nanda a suitor. The text not only depicts photographs as modes of flirtation; it also shares with photography a concern for deixical signification. The book presents the identity of its individual characters through a blank writing style that is both flirtatious and photographic in its pleasurable deferral of meaning. By the time he wrote ‘Crapy Cornelia’, James had adjusted to the new instantaneous and portable photography. As a result, this later story portrays obsolete carte-de-visite photography in nostalgic terms: as a form that enabled affective (and effective) networks of connection, even between the living and the dead.

Additional Information:Special Issue: Photography and Networks. Guest Editors: Owen Clayton and Jim Cheshire
Keywords:Henry James, Flirtation, Photography, Networks, Photographic exchange, William Dean Howells, portraits, Crapy Cornelia, The Awkward Age
Subjects:Q Linguistics, Classics and related subjects > Q320 English Literature
T Eastern, Asiatic, African, American and Australasian Languages, Literature and related subjects > T720 American Literature studies
Divisions:College of Arts > School of English & Journalism > School of English & Journalism (English)
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ID Code:27615
Deposited On:02 Jun 2017 11:48

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