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The Icon: Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Mother

  • Sieglinde Lemke
Chapter

Abstract

Chapter Three closely examines the most famous visual plea to end poverty. Dorothea Lange’s black-and-white portrait depicting a precarious farmworker during the Great Depression, Migrant Mother, has had a sustained impact on the American consciousness, spurning a host of stories on its production, distribution, and reception. Lemke offers the most comprehensive reading of this particular icon of destitution to date. She discusses the often-neglected visual ambiguity that gives Lange’s photo a titillating aura, while at the same time thwarting a voyeuristic gaze. Unleashing a precarious mode of looking, this famous portrait of a working-poor American becomes textually precarious, which makes it a prototype of precarious representations in contemporary documentary photography.

Keywords

Aesthetic Experience Dust Bowl Migrant Mother Aesthetic Pleasure Precarious Life 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sieglinde Lemke
    • 1
  1. 1.University of FreiburgFreiburgGermany

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