Framing Identity examines how Canadian women used photography as a social practice to establish identity. Specifically, Close studies the photographic practice of four, turn-of-the-twentieth-century women photographers: Mattie Gunterman (1872-1945), Geraldine Moodie (1854-1945), Ruby Gordon Peterkin (1887-1961), and Etta Sparks (1879-1917). From a revisionist point of view, it argues that photography is a social practice used by women professionals and amateurs as a vehicle to explore and establish identity.

Framing Identity defines photography as social practice and examines how women moved beyond making pictorial images to using photography as a form of speech to represent social issues. Key concepts and practices drawn from cultural analysis and issues related to identity, gender, post-colonialism, tourism and travel are mapped out. Close considers Gunterman’s photographs as a form of visual narrative within the context of the family album and the practice of amateur, women photographers. Moodie’s portraits of the Inuit are examined in terms of professional photographic practice and discourse on the representation of the Other. The book also analyzes the photographic albums of two Canadian army nurses, Peterkin and Sparks, who were stationed overseas during World War I. Close concludes her study with an overview of the history of women in photography in Canada and investigates various aspects of women’s interaction with the medium.

Subject Photography/History
Published April 2007
Price $29.95 CDN
Pages 211 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 8.5″ × 8.5″ × 0.5″
ISBN-10 1894037294
ISBN-13 9781894037297

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  • Don Bouzek, in Le Travail writes:

    The absolute strength of this book is that it offers a female visual perspective on the years 1880 to 1920. It focuses on four individuals from a time when very few women, let alone the working-class women represented here, were able to gain access to the means of producing photographic images. That alone would make the book unique, but Susan Close places these photos in a social frame.

About the Author

Susan Close is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Architecture and a Senior Fellow at St. John’s College, both at the University of Manitoba. Her book, Framing Identity: Social Practices of Photography in Canada (1880-1920), was published by ARP in 2007. This study was supported by a Social Science and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) doctoral fellowship. Her research interests include photography and the built environment, social activism and design, identity, gender, and visual culture.