• AMERICAN FEMINISM: THE CAMERA WORK OF ALICE AUSTEN, ALFRED STIEGLITZ, AND BERENICE ABBOTT

      Pauwels, Erin Kristl; Alvarez, Mariola V.; Alvarez, Mariola V. (Temple University. Libraries, 2019)
      This thesis explores the work of photographers: Alice Austen, Alfred Stieglitz, and Berenice Abbott in relation to the American landscape of New York from approximately 1880 through 1940. Although the artwork of Georgia O’Keeffe is not addressed specifically, her role as an artist communicating her modern self image through Stieglitz’s photography is one area of focus in the second chapter. Previous scholarship has drawn parallels between women artists and photographers solely in terms related to their gender identity. In contrast, my project identifies a common theoretical thread that links the work of these artists: namely, that photography allowed professional women of this time to react and rise above the constrictions of gender expectations, and moreover, how their own attitudes based in feminist sensibility enabled them to fashion and broadcast bold, liberated self-images. Inspired by the radical transformations of women’s social roles in the United States, each artist produced photographs that represented the evolving role of women in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Using visual analysis and historical context associated with the “New Woman” movement, I argue that each artist discussed in this thesis not only challenges the domestic sphere conventionally assigned to women photographers, but also makes new strides by engaging in work that allows for them to autonomously travel within their own territories or new expansive locations. This thesis gives fresh insight as to how photography provided novel opportunities for elevating women’s place in society, as well as in the artistic realm. Overall, photography was an important tool for each artist as these three women act as agents of change by demonstrating a control of womanhood while the role of a female was beginning to become less constrained by the domestic and social norms of society.