Paperback / softback
November 17, 2015
139 illus. (16 color) with 3D viewer
10.00 Inches (US)
8.00 Inches (US)
1.6 Pounds (US)
$40.00 USD
v2.1 Reference

Women's Views

The Narrative Stereograph in Nineteenth-Century America

Few American homes were without a stereoscope in the 1890s. The immersive, three-dimensional experience of stereographs was among the most popular parlor entertainments of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a period of more than forty years.

In this remarkable book, Melody Davis analyzes the underexamined genre of narrative stereoviews and their audiences. Because stereoviews were created for and marketed primarily to middle-class women in domestic settings, Davis argues that they represent one of the best sources for addressing the flow of historical change in women’s lives. By analyzing dozens of stereoviews—including depictions of gender stereotypes, power dynamics, comical or sentimental situations, and scenes of both serious and playful innuendo—Davis energetically spins a broad history of the real social, sexual, and economic changes in the lives of American women. Her close reading and rich contextualization of these compelling vernacular objects bridge the gaps between the private viewing that took place within the home and the outside world of consumption and power that women were gradually entering.

Illustrated with more than one hundred stereographs and including a three-dimensional viewer, this book will appeal to readers with an interest in U.S. women’s history, the history of photography, visual and cultural studies, and American studies.


“A fascinating illustrated study of historical gender roles as observed through the lens of stereo card views.” —PhotoEd

“Women’s Views is a major contribution to the study of both U.S. women’s history and narrative stereographs.” —Stereo World

“Davis’s book is an engrossing read. Her research is grounded not only in art history, but also women’s studies, and she has carefully considered the images and the shifting role of women at the dawn of the twentieth century. She is writing on a topic that is almost untouched in scholarship. . . . Highly recommended.” —ARLIS/NA Reviews

“Fascinating. . . . Recommended.”


“In the hands of photographic historian and poet Melody Davis [the stereograph] exceeds its brief as a Victorian entertainment. . . . Women’s Views is a contribution to the literature of Euro-American societal change, and her particular focus on photographic experience in the domestic sphere places the accent on gender and private life history. . . . Davis offers a close reading of imaginative possibilities, the space of the stereoview internalized and shared.”

—Martha Langford, History of Photography

“A rich and fascinating study.”

Winterthur Portfolio

9781611688399 : womens-views-davis
Paperback / softback
256 Pages
$40.00 USD

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