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Title: The Rhetoric of Space: Jacob Riis and the Lower East Side.
Authors: Tallack, Douglas
First Published: 2000
Publisher: University of Birmingham Press
Citation: City Sites: Multi-media Essays on New York and Chicago, 1870s-1930s / edited by Maria Balshaw, Liam Kennedy, Anna Notaro, Douglas Tallack.
Abstract: Through a selective focus on Jacob Riis’s photographs and writings of the 1880s-1900s, this essay outlines a broad tension between, on the one hand, the claims on space made by those who sought to highlight for purposes of reform and improvement living conditions during the period of mass immigration, and, on the other hand, alternative ways of representing the Lower East Side. These perspectives were not, of course, mutually exclusive and nor was the relationship between inhabitants and those who paid them attention a straightforward passive/active one. However, inhabitants of the Lower East Side left fewer representations than Riis and so counter-readings of his images are relied upon as a way of exploring re-mappings of the area. To some extent, this distinction corresponds with that made by Henri Lefebvre between, respectively, representational spaces and representations of space. Jacob Riis’s representations of the Lower East Side can be usefully analysed through the formal rhetoric of space and in particular the concept of perspective and the figures of synecdoche and metonymy. In turn, the visual and textual discourse relates (though not straightforwardly) to the concepts of space and place which have become so important in site-analysis.
ISBN: 1902459091
Type: Book chapter
Description: This e-book is available from
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Appears in Collections:Books & Book Chapters, Centre for American Studies

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