Author ORCID Identifier

Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Media, Art, and Text

First Advisor

Dr. Oliver Speck

Second Advisor

Dr. Richard Fine

Third Advisor

Dr. Kathleen Chapman

Fourth Advisor

Dr. Ryan Smith


In this dissertation I argue that the proliferation of a mass codependent relationship with nostalgia in the twentieth century shares a parallel history with the widespread adoption of the reproducible image being used by collective audiences as a supplement for natural memory, or what Proust names “voluntary memory.” This conflict between nostalgia-hungry consumers and artists inspired groups such as Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secessionists and artistically minded authors like Henry James, who employed increasingly complex photographic and literary practices to resist the images’ tendency to debase the aesthetic quality of their own work. Authors such as Marcel Proust and William Faulkner used allusions to photography as a critical foil to subvert the effects of group thought. While the artists discussed in this dissertation used the image as a means of intellectual protest, proto-fascists would master the politicization of image and text to advocate for their own nostalgic interpretation of memory at the expense of others. Therefore, by looking at the literary evidence of this conflict, I hope to better understand how photography and literature and their audiences’ ideologies interact with each other, and how we can better examine both these artistic mediums and develop axiomatic ways of approaching any text with a sort of nostalgic caution.


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Date of Submission