Thursday, May 3, 2012 by Noel Morris
STUDS TERKEL TURNS 100
ALL Studs, ALL day.
98.7 WFMT Chicago/wfmt.com
Studs Terkel 1912 - 2012
Tags: 100, birthday, Bob Dylan, Centenary, Federico Fellini, interviews, Jerry Garcia, Marylin Horne, Muhammed Ali, Pulitzer, solti, Studs, Terkel, WFMT, Will the Circle Be Unbroken, Working
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Photographs act as a significant socrue of historical information as they set the context and offer an intimate understanding of the past. Dorothea Lange’s photographs depict the struggles and the sufferings of people during the Great Depression of the 1930’s. Lange’s pictures are significant as they allow one to interpret the past through their visual faculties. Photographs therefore differ greatly from written socrues, as photographs allow for different interpretations based on what they see; while written and oral socrues already offer an individual’s interpretation thus leaving people to interpret the past based on others interpretations of the past. However, the photographer can still influence people’s opinions based on what they choose to photograph. Therefore while there is no written analysis, bias can be established through the subject of the photos. For example, Lange’s photographs of the Great Depression mostly depict those affected in the rural areas of America, portraying the lack of agriculture, hungry farmers and their families, and weathered houses. These pictures encourage the viewer to interpret photographs based on the emotions portrayed in the photos. For example, there is a picture highlighting a mother and her two children. Immediately most viewers will interpret the context of this picture based on their emotions.However, although the visual socrues provided alternative methods in understanding the past, Lange’s collections of photographs are very one-sided. Lange’s pictures are very limited in a sense that they do not display a collective portrayal of the Great Depression across America. As the pictures display the rural struggles, they only offer portraits of a specific group of Americans. The elites, upper-middle class, cities, urban poor and immigrants makeup the majority of the definition of what America was at the beginning of the twentieth century, and by focusing on specifically the poor of the rural population does not give an accurate portrayal of how the depression affected all Americans. Thus, interpreting photographs can become problematic as the context of the photos can be misleading. It is quite possible that the photographer will capture a moment to enhance the agenda of the photographers and thus could capture a moment that is not actually factual. Nonetheless, Lange’s photographs communicate to the viewers the private lives of those who were greatly affected by the Great Depression. Thus, her photographs give us an opportunity to understand the emotions of the past and direct results of the Great Depression.
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