American Studies Professor Publishes Biography on Internationally-Recognized Photographer

Dr. Carol Quirke, a professor in the American Studies Department at SUNY Old Westbury, recently authored her second book, “Dorothea Lange, Documentary Photography, and Twentieth-Century America: Reinventing Self and Nation.” Published by Routledge, the biography highlights the life of one of the world’s most recognized documentary photographers of the 20th century.

Through her research on photographic and regional history, Quirke’s book tells the story of how Lange’s life was radically altered by the Great Depression, and how her photographs helped transform the nation. It explores the political and social significance of Lange’s work, and the persistent injustices she recorded through her art.

Some of Lange’s best known work was from her time with the Farm Security Administration, and her coverage of the imprisonment of Japanese citizens in internment camps, resulting in the famous photos “Migrant Mother,” “Mended Stockings,” and “Grandfather and Grandson.”

Five-time Emmy award winning cinematographer, Dyanna Taylor, who is also Lange’s granddaughter, said of Quirke’s research: “what a delight to discover the refreshing depth of scholarship in Carol Quirke’s book. [Her] choice of astounding images, ones we have come to know and many never or rarely seen, insightfully illustrate the author’s narrative. Knowing my grandmother’s intelligence as a photographer and as writer/observer, I appreciate Dr. Quirke’s inclusion of Dorothea’s field notes pertaining to each photo.”

“Dorothea Lange, Documentary Photography, and Twentieth Century America,” can be purchased online through the publisher or on Amazon. Quirke’s first book, “Eyes on Labor: News Photography and America’s Working Class,” examined the political stakes of news photography for organized labor in America’s midcentury. Outside teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses at Old Westbury, her continued research interests include cultural history, social movements, visual and consumer culture, and the history of photography and media.