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2002-2003 Visiting Fellows

Nina Kassianou
Panteion University, Athens

I visited Princeton University during the fall of 2002, on a Rare Books library fellowship. For my research on my dissertation entitled, "Photographic Depiction in the Historic Period 1940-1950," I collected photographic materials in order to explore the questions of: first, how can photography turn into a vivid narrative medium; and second how photography can provide another way of recording, and interpreting history. My interests mostly focus on how social and historical events are represented through photography, as well as, what additional information can be drawn through careful investigation and reading of photographic archival material.

While at Princeton I focused on collecting research materials taken the period of the Greek civil war. In the department of Rare Books and Special Collections I had the unique opportunity to study Nancy Crawshaw's and Norman Gilbertson's photographic archives.

I studied the events these photographers focused on, and tried to discern the motivations driving their choices of these photographic events. I also explored the publications of Nancy Crawshaw's articles; the confidential letters to the newspaper "Manchester Guardian;" her articles and her photographs published in "Listener", "Illustrated", and other magazines; the reports of Norman Gilbertson to the Quaker Relief Program during the time they both were in Greece.

I tried to give my personal interpretations on the way foreign photographers approached the Greek civil war as well as to investigate the way, which their photographs are interpreted through the legends, and texts they used to describe them. How words can interfere and affect the meaning and the substance of the war photographs.

Furthermore, I examined the different factors, which may affect the eye of an outsider, the country of origin, the profession's requirements, the assignment's objectives, and the differences in cultural and traditional inheritance, the country's history, and the distinctive collective unconscious on the photographic process.

Besides photographs and texts of Norman Gilbertson,, taken during his stay in Greece from 1946 to 1952, focused on the events of civil war especially in Northern Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace, which give a clear -sighted accurate and lively description of the period ,were thoroughly examined. This documentation is so detailed that viewer has the opportunity to gain access to a global sight of the events and of the scenery where these took place.

The photographic material I researched in the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections was very crucial for my study to proceed further because I had the unique opportunity to work on unpublished photos and I feel that only in Princeton I would have the chance to have access to so important for my PhD, photographic archives.

Finally I looked at Moses Hadas's photographic archive which great part of is made from photoduplicating of Spyros Meletzis, the very well known Greek photographer, personal work from the Greek Resistance Front during the Second World War.

These archives were perfectly organized and I had the opportunity to reproduce some slides out of the photography work of Nancy Crawshaw's, which will help me to proceed to a deeper and more analytical insight of this period.

I also located photographic material from "Life" and "Illustrated London News" magazines, which gave me the opportunity to attain an expanded view regarding the depiction of the Greek photographers. I am interested in exploring the similarities and differences between the two points of view - local and foreign.

I used the Firestone and Marquand Libraries in order to find bibliography related to my topic including, books regarding history, historiography, sociology, anthropology, semiology, photography, and photographic essays. I also used the Internet to search for articles and books.


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