Theses Doctoral

Constantin Guys and the Modern Newspaper

Blair, Susannah E.

My dissertation looks at a pivotal point in the history of the news image (c.1840 to 1860), when wood engraving and steam-powered printing presses transformed the genre into a mass medium that reached hundreds of thousands of readers. Using the format of the monograph and the work of French artist Constantin Guys, I argue that despite the advent of photography and other reproductive visual techniques, drawing formed the backbone of the new authority of the mass-produced news image.

To make this case, I locate Guys’s drawings within a wide range of other tactics of transcription that made the printing of text and image possible––including stenography and printing telegraphy––to contextualize the strange persistence of this manual medium within the increasingly mechanized armature of the illustrated newspaper. As a study of the formation of trust in the news image at a moment of momentous technological change, my project identifies a vital origin point for pressing questions related to the truth and objectivity of the news in our contemporary moment, and places mid-nineteenth-century drawing at its center.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Art History and Archaeology
Thesis Advisors
Crary, Jonathan K.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 7, 2022