Dora Apel

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Calling Memory into Place

Rutgers University Press

In this deeply personal work, acclaimed art historian Dora Apel explores how memory can be mobilized for social justice and how inherited traumas can be channeled in productive ways. Examining memorials, photographs, artworks, and her own experiences as a cancer survivor and the child of holocaust survivors, she discovers strategies for “unforgetting” the past. 

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Beautiful Terrible Ruins

Detroit and the Anxiety of Decline

Rutgers University Press

Detroit is the epicenter of an explosive growth in images of urban decay. In Beautiful Terrible Ruins, art historian Dora Apel explores a wide array of these images of ruin, ranging from photography, advertising, and television, to documentaries, video games, and zombie and disaster films. The author shows how, through the aesthetic distancing of representation, the beauty and fascination of these images helps us to cope with the overarching anxieties of our time.  
 

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War Culture and the Contest of Images

Rutgers University Press

War Culture and the Contest of Images analyzes the relationships among contemporary war, documentary practices, and democratic ideals. Using carefully chosen case studies, Dora Apel examines a wide variety of images and cultural representations of war in the United States and the Middle East, including photography, performance art, video games, reenactment, and social media images. Simultaneously, she explores the merging of photojournalism and artistic practices, the effects of visual framing, and the construction of both sanctioned and counter-hegemonic narratives in a global contest of images.

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Imagery of Lynching

Black Men, White Women, and the Mob

Rutgers University Press

Outside of the classroom and scholarly publications, lynching has long been a taboo subject. Nice people, it is felt, do not talk about it, and they certainly do not look at images representing the atrocity.

In Imagery of Lynching, Dora Apel contests this adopted stance of ignorance. Through a careful and compelling analysis of over one hundred representations of lynching, she shows how the visual documentation of such crimes can be a central vehicle for both constructing and challenging racial hierarchies. She examines how lynching was often orchestrated explicitly for the camera and how these images circulated on postcards, but also how they eventually were appropriated by antilynching forces and artists from the 1930s to the present. She further investigates how photographs were used to construct ideologies of "whiteness" and "blackness," the role that gender played in these visual representations, and how interracial desire became part of the imagery.

Offering the fullest and most systematic discussion of the depiction of lynching in diverse visual forms, this book addresses questions about race, class, gender, and dissent in the shaping of American society. Although we may want to avert our gaze, Apel holds it with her sophisticated interpretations of traumatic images and the uses to which they have been put.

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