Living with His Camera

Jane Gallop, Author, Jane Sutcliffe, Author, Jane Gallop, Author Duke University Press $29.95 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8223-3102-5
A few years ago, literary theorist Jane Gallop fended off charges of sexual harassment and then wrote a book about it, Feminist Accused of Sexual Harassment, which was a combination of memoiristic self-disclosure bordering on exhibitionism and cerebral forays into the upper reaches of poststructuralist literary theory. This book follows the same model, offering a Lacanian interpretation of the author's own family photo album. The trick is, Gallop's live-in boyfriend of many years, and the father of her children, is photographer Blau, who specializes in the field of domestic art photography a la Sally Mann and Nicholas Nixon. Thus, their family album becomes a charged, psychoanalytic document--a referendum, in fact, on their whole personal/professional partnership. Written in four chapters, each with a different photo-related text as its guide, the book offers loose ruminations on Roland Barthes' Camera Lucida, Susan Sontag's On Photography, Kathryn Harrison's novel Exposure, and Pierre Bourdieu's early work on the sociology of home photography, bent to the images of the author's own family life. The results are mixed, with Barthes and Sontag generating richer material than Harrison and Bourdieu, and the best moments coming when Gallop allows herself to enter the grain of her domestic world without too much theoretical interference. Her ruminations on the emotional and intellectual contradictions of being mother, partner and public intellectual are consistently probing, self-aware and generous--even gushing when her children are involved--and always intrepid about issues of anger and doubt. 27 b&w photographs.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2003
Release date: 06/01/2003
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