Photography emerged in the 1840s in the United States, and it became a visual medium that documents the harsh realities of enslavement. Similarly, the photography culture grew during the Civil War, and it became an important material that archived this unprecedented war. Deborah Willis's The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship contains rarely seen letters and diary notes from Black men and women and photographs of Black soldiers who fought and died in this war. This lecture will explore images and letters that have reshaped African American narratives.
Deborah Willis, PhD, is University Professor and Chair of the Department of Photography & Imaging at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship and a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She is the author of The Black Civil War Soldier: A Visual History of Conflict and Citizenship and Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, among others. Professor Willis’s curated exhibitions include: "Framing Moments in the KIA," "Migrations and Meanings in Art", "Let Your Motto Be Resistance: African American Portraits” at the International Center of Photography; Out of Fashion Photography; Framing Beauty at the Henry Art Gallery and "Reframing Beauty: Intimate Moments" at Indiana University.