Mothers and Daughters: An Exploration in Photographs

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Aperture Foundation, Incorporated, 1987 - Photography - 111 pages
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An aperture classic that sold over 40,000 copies in previous editions. In this extraordinary volume, Mothers & Daughters: An Exploration in Photographs with essays by Tillie Olsen and Estelle Jussim, the most basic and the most mysterious of relationships -- as experienced in contemporary America -- is explored in all of its variety, nuance, and ambivalence. Nearly ninety photographers contributed penetrating images of mothers and their daughters -- women of every shape, hue, and social station. The result is an emotional mosaic of depth and detail and also a pioneering accomplishment in the history of photography. The photographers are joined by leading women writers and poets offering a kaleidoscopic gathering of insights and

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About the author (1987)

Born in Omaha, Nebraska, Tillie Olsen received only a high school education. But because of her success as a writer, she has served as a visiting lecturer and writer-in-residence at a number of colleges, including Amherst College, Stanford University, and MIT. She has received numerous awards for her work, including an O. Henry Award for best American short story (1961) and a Guggenheim fellowship (1976-77). The widely anthologized "I Stand Here Ironing" (1961), in the circumstances of its publication and its voice and subject, embodies the concerns of Olsen's literary career. In this monologue of a woman reviewing her relationship to her 19-year-old daughter, Olsen suggests the themes of the blighted potential and wasted talent of working-class women that have preoccupied her throughout her career. As she irons, the woman mournfully meditates on how she may have prevented her daughter's full "flowering" - a flowering that she herself has never had. Most intensely recalled is how she had to leave her infant daughter to go to work after her husband abandoned them. A mother herself by age 19, Olsen did not publish her first work until she was in her forties (though she began to write in her teens) when the pressures of supporting herself and her four children lessened and she felt she had written something worthy of publication. At times considered unrelenting in the despair that she attributes to her characters, Olsen's style is marked by a rhythmic, hypnotic lyricism and an evocative use of language. Olsen later published an introductory essay to the reprint of Rebecca Harding Davis's nineteenth-century novel, Life in the Iron Mills. In Silences (1978), a collection of essays, she addresses directly the various cultural, political, and economic forces that silence women writers and writers from working-class or minority backgrounds.

Estelle Jussim has taught at the graduate school of Simmons College since 1972. She is the author of "Stopping Time: The Photographs of Harold Edgerton"; "Landscape as Photograph "(with Elizabeth Lindquist-Cock); "Frederic Remington, the Camera, and the Old West"; "Slave to Beauty: The Eccentric Life and Controversial Career of F. Holland Day, Photographer, Publisher, Aesthete" (winner of the New York Photographic Historical Society Prize for Distinctive Achievement in the History of Photography); and "Visual Communication and the Graphic Arts: Photographic Techniques in the Nineteenth Century." She lives in Granby, Massachusetts.

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