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Grant number: FT-60799-13

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Antje Pfannkuchen
Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA 17013-2896)

Tom Wedgwood and the Invention of Photography: A Reevaluation of the Earliest Photographic Endeavors

In this project I investigate Tom Wedgwood at the Wedgwood archives in Barlaston, UK, as a pre-photographer and one of the major importers of German ideas into England around 1800. In my dissertation I presented a novel perspective regarding the roots of the medium photography. The new answer I suggest is that photography needs to be taken seriously as a product of Early Romanticism, and of physical experiments and poetic imaginations surrounding electricity. Wedgwood was a friend of Romantic poets and scientists. He also conducted experiments and co-authored an article with Humphry Davy in 1802, which is seen as one of the foundational texts in photographic history. Wedgwood and Davy were able to produce images on a sensitive surface by the action of light. The crucial problem they couldn't solve was the fixing of the images. I will produce a paper showing the influence of German ideas on Wedgwood's thought, specifically before the background of these photographic experiments.

Project fields:
History and Philosophy of Science, Technology, and Medicine

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

Total amounts:
$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2013 – 7/31/2013