Historical Social Research

Mike O’Mahony: Through a Glass Darkly: Reflections on Photography and the Visual Representation of Sport. [Abstract]

The sport theme was immediately embraced by the earliest photographers. In its first part, this essay traces the long and influential history of sport photography from its beginnings through the motion studies of the late 19th century to the role of illustrated magazines in making sport photography widely available. Based on that outline, the essay then elaborates upon the relevance of photography for sport history, arguing that the uses of visual representations in sport history have been largely under-theorized. As examples, the essay then offers close readings of Life magazine features from the Cold War, discussing Ralph Crane’s and Mark Kaufman’s depictions of Soviet athletes during the 1952 and 1960 Olympic Games.

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