Photography and Disease- Elliot Greiner

This paper charts the relationship between society and disease within the context of photography and woodcuts and drawings. From an initially deterministic outlook displaying disease as a servant of death, to a more therapeutic approach that highlighted the human condition alongside disease, the ways in which illness have been represented in society has greatly fluctuated over time. 600 years ago woodcuts and prints from the middle ages characterized the Black Plague as a deterministic tyrant who carried off helpless victims in an almost random fashion.  In years following, up until the mid 20th century, illnesses were still considered to be merciless killers who randomly targeted the weak and old. When the newly minted profession of photography arose, illnesses were construed to be an almost impossible enemy, highlighting the ferocity of the pathogens through physical degradation of the body. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that the advent of personal cameras allowed victims of disease a form of coping-a practice that quickly picked up traction with AIDs sufferers in the 1980’s. Different than previous “emotionally removed” disease photography, AIDs patients mixed in other elements of life, such as family, to further change the course of disease’s representation in photographic media.  

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7 thoughts on “Photography and Disease- Elliot Greiner”

  1. This is a very interesting topic! Your argument however, is slightly broad. Are you going to focus on a specific time period? And are you going to look specifically at AIDS or just diseases in general?

  2. I agree with the first comment, the topic really intrigues me! I think you have a great base and topic that will definitely capture readers. My question though is who exactly thought these specific opinions about diseases? I know you say “society” but who exactly in society…the general public, the photographers/artists, etc?

  3. By reading your abstract, it seems as if you will be concentrating on photographic images, so more recent times, than images carved in wood 600 years ago. Is this true or will you rather be comparing the more recent images of photographs to the older images using different types of media such as wood or paint?

  4. As those above me have said, I think this is an interesting topic, and I look foreward to learning more about it. However, from this it appears that this change was quite sudden, was it, or was it a slow and gradual change?

  5. This seems really cool im curious to know how medicine during the time period you reserched was made or how productive using medicine during this time was. Could be helpful in your paper.

  6. I see that you are discussing the ideas of photography of diseases, but are you looking at the instrumentation of medicine throughout time?

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