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The Rhetoric of Space: Jacob Riis and the Lower East Side.

By Douglas Tallack

Abstract

This e-book is available from http://www.city-sites.org.uk/Metadata only entryThrough a selective focus on Jacob Riis’s photographs and writings of the 1880s-1900s, this essay outlines a broad tension between, on the one hand, the claims on space made by those who sought to highlight for purposes of reform and improvement living conditions during the period of mass immigration, and, on the other hand, alternative ways of representing the Lower East Side. These perspectives were not, of course, mutually exclusive and nor was the relationship between inhabitants and those who paid them attention a straightforward passive/active one. However, inhabitants of the Lower East Side left fewer representations than Riis and so counter-readings of his images are relied upon as a way of exploring re-mappings of the area. To some extent, this distinction corresponds with that made by Henri Lefebvre between, respectively, representational spaces and representations of space.\ud \ud \ud Jacob Riis’s representations of the Lower East Side can be usefully analysed through the formal rhetoric of space and in particular the concept of perspective and the figures of synecdoche and metonymy. In turn, the visual and textual discourse relates (though not straightforwardly) to the concepts of space and place which have become so important in site-analysis

Publisher: University of Birmingham Press
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8673
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