Marcy J. Dinius

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities

20052006 Forum on Word and Image

Marcy J. Dinius

English (American Literature)


American Literature in the Daguerreian Age

Prof. Dinius is working on a book manuscript entitled "The Camera and the Pen: American Literature in the Daguerreian Age," which offers a unique comparative analysis of early photography and the written word as they were produced in America between 1839 and 1855. Her work addresses notable lapses in the existing scholarship by examining the earliest discussions of daguerreotypy in America (which predated the arrival of any actual images), the differences between daguerreotypy and subsequent phases of photography, and daguerreian representations in antebellum American literature. 


The Camera and the Pen is framed by an account of the relation between visual and literary representation before the introduction of daguerreotypy to America which understands the invention of photography as a bridge between, rather than a rupture of, the manual and mechanical arts. With this project, Dinius hopes to make substantial contributions to the study of American literature and culture, interdisciplinary media studies, and word and image theory by considering several things: the role of the earliest stages of photography in the simultaneous professionalization of, and rivalry between, science and the arts in antebellum American society; early photography's fundamental evolutionary dependence on the written word in its American practice; and the way in which this moment in the history of the representational arts is evidence of the untenability of totalizing theories of iconology.