A Look at Digital Primary
Sources: Notes
Identification and analysis through the
Crimean War photographs of Roger
Fenton
H...
Roger Fenton Crimean War Collection
• 263 of Fenton’s photographs from the
Crimean war are digitized and on-line through
t...
Fenton’s Letters
• Roger Fenton’s letters from the Crimea are
digitized and on-line via De Montfort
University, Leicester,...
Who is Errol Morris?
• Documentary film maker
• Writer
• Called a non-fiction artist, a few of his films
include the Acade...
Fenton photograph [OFF]
Fenton photograph [ON]
Why does Morris care?
• Fenton was one of the first war photographers
• The analysis of whether Fenton did or did not
stag...
How did Morris go about analyzing the
primary sources?
• Morris followed steps of the historical thinking
process.
• He as...
What were the steps of the historical
thinking process?
• He consulted specialists to hear multiple
theories and the found...
Next Steps
• Morris conducted a close reading of the visual
content of the photographs
• He looked at the silences. What w...
The Grand Finale
• Morris turned to digital technology
• Forensic photographic analysis enabled Morris
to rule out categor...
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Week threehist390notes on Historical Thinking, Roger Fenton, and Errol Morris

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Week threehist390notes on Historical Thinking, Roger Fenton, and Errol Morris

  1. 1. A Look at Digital Primary Sources: Notes Identification and analysis through the Crimean War photographs of Roger Fenton History 390-003, The Digital Past, Week Three, spring 2014, Lee Ann Cafferata, George Mason University
  2. 2. Roger Fenton Crimean War Collection • 263 of Fenton’s photographs from the Crimean war are digitized and on-line through the Library of Congress: http://www.loc.gov.mutex.gmu.edu/pictures/collection/ftncnw/background.html • The Fenton Crimean War collection is contextualized in the Library of Congress online catalog
  3. 3. Fenton’s Letters • Roger Fenton’s letters from the Crimea are digitized and on-line via De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.
  4. 4. Who is Errol Morris? • Documentary film maker • Writer • Called a non-fiction artist, a few of his films include the Academy-Award-winning, The Fog of War (2003), the multiple-award-winning The Thin Blue Line (1988, Netflix streaming), Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control, JFK
  5. 5. Fenton photograph [OFF]
  6. 6. Fenton photograph [ON]
  7. 7. Why does Morris care? • Fenton was one of the first war photographers • The analysis of whether Fenton did or did not stage the photographs influences our interpretation of the war. How? • This then, becomes a statement about the validity of his accounts of the Crimean War—a war that became unpopular and controversial in Great Britain
  8. 8. How did Morris go about analyzing the primary sources? • Morris followed steps of the historical thinking process. • He asked a question. • The he turned to • Sourcing • Contextualizing • Close Reading • Reading the Silences • Corroborating
  9. 9. What were the steps of the historical thinking process? • He consulted specialists to hear multiple theories and the foundations of those theories • He queried other primary sources. • He contextualized the photographs in the chronology (the time) of the war and the geographic space of the historical narrative. • He investigated the state of the technology of photography during the Crimean War era-1854-56. (contextualized the technology)
  10. 10. Next Steps • Morris conducted a close reading of the visual content of the photographs • He looked at the silences. What wasn’t there? • Throughout his investigation, he corroborated conclusions, including the opinions and biases of other historical and forensic photography experts
  11. 11. The Grand Finale • Morris turned to digital technology • Forensic photographic analysis enabled Morris to rule out categories of analysis and add additional factors • In addition to scientific evidence, forensic analysis cited the need to look at photographs as both representational and as art and as the reflection of the photographer’s objectives.

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