Maison Française d’Oxford 2019 Photobook Conference :
The British, American and French Photobook:
Commitment, Memory, Materiality and the Art Market (1900-2019)
A conference to be held at the Maison Française, Oxford
Thursday 14 to Saturday 16 March 2019
The Maison Française conference committee invites proposals on the social history of the
British, American or French photobook from 1900 to the present. Papers will address:
commitment or explicit political engagement; memory, commemoration and the writing of
history; materiality (whether real or virtual), and how material form affects circulation,
handling, critical responses and the social life of the photobook. We invite contributors to
analyse these topics with respect to the growth of the market for the photobook as a
commodity and an object of bibliophilic attention. Proposals focusing on contemporary
productions are particularly welcome.
Recent illustrated anthologies in the vein of The Photobook: A History (Gerry Badger and
Martin Parr, 2004, 2006, 2014) have established three things: firstly, the photobook-photographer
is an editor and an author, or auteur (in the cinematographic sense, but applied to “directing” the
production of a book); secondly, the photobook is an autonomous work of art, and a collectible
object of connoisseurship; thirdly, the photobook “art world” now exists and can be studied.
This conference will concern itself with the social history of the photobook, whether
photographer-driven, writer-driven, editor-driven, or publisher-driven. For the purposes of
this conference, the definition of the photobook will be extended to include all
photographically illustrated books, regardless of subject matter or the proportion of text to
image, or indeed whether or not the images are “illustrative” in the strict sense of the word.
Three major questions arise concerning the photobook as a medium:
• Firstly, what place is there for literary fiction or imaginative picture-making in photobooks
committed to documentary truth-telling or historical accuracy? In a word, how do fact and
fiction, objectivity and subjectivity, cohere?
• Secondly, to what extent does the self-fashioning of the photographer in the art market
interfere with the narrative meaning of a photobook? What is the influence of the art
market on the photobook or on the writing of photobook histories? And how has the art
market for photobooks changed since the bibliophilic creations of the early twentieth
• Thirdly, unlike individual prints that become unmoored without their captions, and which
can be appropriated and re-used against themselves, can a photo-text shore itself up against
appropriation? Is it a privileged pedagogical medium? A self-sufficient medium? This leads to
a related question: how have certain photobooks changed with time? How have famous or
reprinted photobooks been differently interpreted by different audiences? What has been
the afterlife of politically committed photobooks? How, and in what circumstances, have
certain photobooks contributed to writing or re-writing local memory or “collective
memory”, at the time of their publication and over time?
To answer these questions, specialists in the history of photography, book studies and visual
studies are invited to dialogue with researchers in such disciplines as sociology,
anthropology, critical race theory, queer theory, gender studies, post-colonial studies and
comparative literature. Papers may be disciplinary or multidisciplinary.
Papers shall be given in English.
Proposals are due by 15 November 2018.
Send 300-word abstracts (as an email attachment in Microsoft Word format, RTF, or PDF)
along with a one-page CV to
Roundtable sessions of 60 to 90 minutes may be proposed. They should be pre-organised,
and include 3 to 5 panellists. To propose a roundtable, the discussion moderator will send a
single 300-word abstract describing the chosen topic, as well as supplying the full details of
each panellist, namely their contact information (email and phone number), affiliation and a
one-page CV for each. Please be sure to confirm the participation of all panellists before
submitting an abstract.
Roundtable proposals are due by 15 November 2018.
Confirmation of acceptance will be sent by 15 January 2019.
One-page/500-word abstracts must be sent by 15 February 2019.
Conference venue :
Maison Française d’Oxford
2-10 Norham Road
Oxford OX2 6SE
Paul Edwards (MFO, CNRS/LARCA, Université Paris Diderot)
Conference website :
AUER M. et M. (2007), Photo Books from the M+M Auer Collection, Hermance, Editions M+M.
BOOM Mattie and SUERMONDT Rik (1989), Photography between Covers: The Dutch
Documentary Photobook after 1945, Amsterdam, Fragment Uitgeverij.
BOUQUERET Christian (2012), Paris. Les livres de photographies des années 1920 aux années
1950, Paris, Gründ.
DI BELLO Patrizia, WILSON Colette and ZAMIR Shamoon (eds) (2012), The Photobook: from Talbot
to Ruscha and beyond, New York, I.B. Tauris.
EDWARDS Elizabeth and HART Janice (eds) (2004), Photographs Objects Histories: on the
Materiality of Images, London, Routledge.
EDWARDS Paul (2016), Perle noire. Le photobook littéraire, Rennes, Presses Universitaires de
FERNÁNDEZ Horacio (2011), The Latin American Photobook, New York, Aperture.
FERNÁNDEZ Horacio (2014), Photobooks Spain 1905-1977, Madrid, Museo Nacional Centro de
Arte Reina Sofía/RM/Acción Cultural Española.
FERNÁNDEZ Horacio (2017), New York in Photobooks, Barcelona, Editorial RM/Centro José
GIERSTBERG Frits and SUERMONDT Rik (2012), The Dutch Photobook, New York, Aperture.
KANEKO Ryuichi and VARTANIAN Ivan (2009), Japanese Photobooks of the 1960s and 70s, New
KARASIK Mikhail and Heiting Manfred (2015), The Soviet Photobook 1920-1941, Göttingen,
MEIZEL Laureline (2018), “Inventer le livre illustré par la photographie en France 1876-1897”,
DPhil, Paris I University.
NEUMÜLLER Moritz and MARTIN Lesley A. (eds) (2017), Photobook Phenomenon, Barcelona,
Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona/Fundació Foto Colectania/RM
PARR Martin and BADGER Gerry (2004, 2006, 2014), The Photobook: A History, 3 vols., London,
PARR Martin and WASSINKLUNDGREN (2016) : The Chinese Photobook: from the 1900s to the
Present, New York, Aperture.
PFRUNDER Peter (2011), Swiss Photobooks from 1927 to the Present, Zurich, Lars Muller
RITCHIN Fred and NAGGAR Carole (2016), Magnum Photobook, London, Phaidon.
ROTH Andrew (2001), The Book of 101 Books: Seminal Photographic Books of the Twentieth
Century, New York, PPP Editions/Roth Horowitz.
ROTH Andrew (ed.) (2004), The Open Book: A history of the photographic book from 1878 to
the present, Gothenburg, Hasselblad Center