M.A. in Liberal Studies Lecture: The Politics of Care: Dorothea Lange’s New Deal Photography

Event date: 

Thursday, November 14, 2019 - 5:30pm to 7:00pm


Room 1100, NAB
Carol Quirke speaking at SUNY Old Westbury



Dr. Carol Quirke, Professor of American Studies, will be speaking about “‘The Politics of Care: Dorothea Lange’s New Deal Photography,” as part of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Public Lecture Series.

Dorothea Lange is the Great Depression’s most recognized photographer. Lange’s probing camera eye is responsible for Migrant Mother, perhaps the most reproduced image in the world, of a woman cradling three of her children as she gazes out into an unknown and fraught future. The Great Depression led Franklin Delano Roosevelt to expand government to ease citizens’ economic trauma; one program, the Farm Security Administration’s (FSA) Historical Section, employed photographers to record American life. Lange’s FSA photographs of New York City tenement dwellers, California migrant farm laborers, evicted Okies and Arkies, and white and black Southern sharecroppers, barefoot yet proud, arrest today, some eighty years later. Carol Quirke’s talk, based on her recent biography, “Dorothea Lange, Documentary Photography and Twentieth Century America: Reinventing Self and Nation”(Routledge, 2019), argues that Lange’s photography employs an ethics of care—identifying for citizens where care had lapsed and goading them into accepting governmental sustenance of its citizenry.

Dr. Quirke investigates the political stakes of visual representation, writing about photography and social movements. Oxford University Press published her first book, ”Eyes on Labor: News Photography and America’s Working Class” in 2012, and she recently completed a biography of world–renowned photographer Dorothea Lange for Routledge. Quirke’s essays have appeared in the American Quarterly, the Radical History Review, and History Now. She is a recipient of a 2017 grant from the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University for a proposed project on feminist photojournalist Bettye Lane. Prior to graduate studies Quirke was a community organizer in organizations confronting racial, gender, and economic injustice.

The Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Public Lecture Series features innovative research by Old Westbury’s MALS-affiliated faculty from a wide variety of disciplines. Presenters share their expertise as scholars, provide insights into current events, and engage in discussion with audience members. Lectures are free, open to the public, and wheelchair accessible. Space may be limited, so be sure to plan ahead. To learn more about the graduate program, or the Lecture Series, please contact friskena [at] oldwestbury.edu (subject: Master%20of%20Arts%20in%20Liberal%20Studies%20Public%20Lecture%20Series) (Amanda Frisken).