December 30, 2019
85 b&w illus., 16 color plates
9.00 Inches (US)
7.25 Inches (US)
1.65 Pounds (US)
$105.00 USD, £76.00 GBP
v2.1 Reference
Paperback / softback
December 30, 2019
85 b&w illus., 16 color plates
9.00 Inches (US)
7.25 Inches (US)
1.3 Pounds (US)
$35.00 USD, £22.99 GBP
v2.1 Reference

School Photos in Liquid Time

Reframing Difference

From clandestine images of Jewish children isolated in Nazi ghettos and Japanese American children incarcerated in camps to images of Native children removed to North American boarding schools, classroom photographs of schoolchildren are pervasive even in repressive historical and political contexts. School Photos in Liquid Time offers a closer look at this genre of vernacular photography, tracing how photography advances ideologies of social assimilation as well as those of hierarchy and exclusion. In Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer's deft analysis, school photographs reveal connections between the histories of persecuted subjects in different national and imperial centers.

Exploring what this ubiquitous and mundane but understudied genre tells us about domination as well as resistance, the authors examine school photos as documents of social life and agents of transformation. They place them in dialogue with works by contemporary artists who reframe, remediate, and elucidate them. Ambitious yet accessible, School Photos in Liquid Time presents school photography as a new access point into institutions of power, revealing the capacity of past and present actors to disrupt and reinvent them.

About the Authors

Marianne Hirsch is William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and professor in the Institute for Research on Women, Gender, and Sexuality. She is author of many books, including The Generation of Postmemory: Writing and Visual Culture after the Holocaust. Leo Spitzer is K. T. Vernon Professor of History Emeritus at Dartmouth College and author of several books, including Hotel Bolivia: The Culture of Memory in a Refuge from Nazism. Hirsch and Spitzer also coauthored Ghosts of Home: The Afterlife of Czernowitz in Jewish Memory.


"[A] new book by Marianne Hirsch, the William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature and a professor at the Institute for Research on Women, Gender and Sexuality, examines this common but overlooked genre of vernacular photography for the first time."—Columbia News

"Every new publication from Marianne Hirsch and Leo Spitzer is an event to be welcomed and read with deep attention. When we encounter their co-authored work — on memorial objects, witness testimonies, photographs, and family secrets — we are given a triple dose of insight, fine-tuned historical research, and transformative close readings of freighted images. Their latest book, School Photos in Liquid Time: Reframing Difference, is no different."—Los Angeles Review of Books

"Hirsch and Spitzer's investigation into the school photograph as a site where difficult histories play out is a timely and important contribution to how we imagine the critical and affective potential of everyday photographs."—Photography and Culture

"[P]ath-breaking...the book is commended for offering a full-length study devoted to school photos and for directing academic attention to a genre of vernacular photography that has received only a paucity of scholarly and historical investigation."—Kronos


"Hirsch and Spitzer take a common and overlooked genre of vernacular photography, the school photo, and bring together images separated by time and place into a compelling conversation, with analysis that is both stimulating and accessible."—Jasmine Alinder, Associate Professor of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

"A beautifully written and very readable work that uncovers surprising and counterintuitive resonances between different iterations of school photographs, captured amid historical trauma."—Brett Ashley Kaplan, Director, Holocaust, Genocide, Memory Studies, University of Illinois

"This phenomenal book is about world knowledge and the possibilities that occur with the experience of an education. It is a much needed book that unites individual and group portraits from photographic archives from around the world. By including contemporary artists' reconstructed images of their own past and looking school portraits as a source for questioning identity, the authors invite the reader to recognize the importance of education to a wide range of people. The photographic images in this collection deconstruct and reimagine critical periods in visual culture through formulating ideas about group identity in search of an education. The book opens up old wounds focusing on difference and unites individuals on the basis of similar experiences in distant places. It forces us to be aware of other forms of educational structures that promoted separatism, religious doctrines, racism, and sexism and at the same time guides the reader through a complex visual history of hopeful ambitions. It is a visual testimony that highlights the cultural legacy of education. Engaging read and thoughtfully edited. A must read!"—Deborah Willis, New York University

"Everyone hates their school photos! But in this brilliant and surprisingly political book, Hirsch and Spitzer show how these seemingly pedestrian vernacular images can often reveal bold challenges to ritualized social conformity."—Brian Wallis, Photography Curator, The Walther Collection

"School photographs have long been constitutive of our envisioned selves, as we are alone and as we are with others. Indeed, they are deeply generative, with a disciplinary pedagogy of their own which most children in the world now learn at an early age. They may be permissive or coercive, nurturing or stunting, celebratory or grievous, and very much more. But never have they been so expansively and brilliantly interrogated. This book gathers and consolidates school photographs as a category for comparative critique of the worlds we do and do not share, of fractured hopes once held, of dreams renewed. Required Reading."—Laura Wexler, Professor of American Studies, Professor of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, and Co-Chair of the Women's Faculty Forum at Yale University

9780295746531 : school-photos-in-liquid-time-hirsch-spitzer-margolis
264 Pages
$105.00 USD
9780295746548 : school-photos-in-liquid-time-hirsch-spitzer-margolis
Paperback / softback
264 Pages
$35.00 USD

Other Titles by Marianne Hirsch

Teaching the Representation of the Holocaust

edited by Marianne Hirsch, Irene Kacandes
Jan 2004 - Modern Language Association of America
$37.00 USD - Paperback / softback

The Mother / Daughter Plot

Marianne Hirsch
Oct 1989 - Indiana University Press
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Other Titles from Samuel and Althea Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies

Revolutionary Jews from Spinoza to Marx

Jonathan I. Israel
Jun 2021 - University of Washington Press
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A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era

David B. Ruderman
Aug 2020 - University of Washington Press
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$50.00 USD - Hardback

The Jewish Bible

David Stern
Jul 2019 - University of Washington Press
$105.00 USD - Hardback
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Meat Matters

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Uprooting the Diaspora

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Self-Financing Genocide

Gábor Kádár, Zoltán Vági
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