Signs of the Times: The Visual Politics of Jim Crow

Front Cover
University of California Press, May 6, 2010 - Art - 391 pages
"This book marks a significant leap in our national discussion, both lay and academic, about the history and legacy of Jim Crow. Abel writes most incisively about what Jim Crow looked and looks like today. She makes an utterly convincing case that pictures were every bit as powerful as words, if not more so, in the many ages of Jim Crow. This brilliant new book gives new focus to our national dialogue on race and the difference it makes."—Henry Louis Gates, Jr., Harvard University

"The signs of 'Jim Crow,' just as the social and political regime for which they stood, have had their day. Today, Elizabeth Abel, one of our master teachers, points out here new dimensions of their meaning."—Hortense Spillers, Vanderbilt University

"Signs of the Times is a brilliant analysis of the seemingly straightforward semiotic system through which segregation worked—the binary 'white/colored' that structured the Jim Crow signs. Through Abel's 'thick description' of how the signs lived and functioned in particular spaces and contexts, we gain a new understanding about how race is produced, how racialization functions as a product of language and spatial organization, how it is inscribed not so much on the body but on social and public space, urban and rural."—Marianne Hirsch, author of Family Frames: Photography, Narrative, and Postmemory

"Elizabeth Abel's powerfully argued, meticulously researched, and beautifully written book traces the career of Jim Crow signs from their intellectual and political origins through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Signs of the Times will find a wide readership among scholars of cultural studies, media studies, American Studies, and African American Studies."—Valerie Smith, Princeton University


e Social life of Jim Crow Signs
e Signs of Race in the language of Photography
Perspective Mobility
Eating Seeing and the nation
Photography Cinema and the Segregated eater
Camera Work Spectatorship
Activism and Photography
Contemporary Turns
Select Bibliography

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2010)

Elizabeth Abel is Professor of English at the University of California, Berkeley, and the author and editor of several books, including Writing and Sexual Difference, Virginia Woolf and the Fictions of Psychoanalysis, and (with Barbara Christian and Helene Moglen) Female Subjects in Black and White (UC Press).