American Studies Professor Publishes Book on Sensational Visual Journalism, History

Frisken Book Cover

Dr. Amanda Frisken, Professor in the American Studies/Media & Communications and Acting Dean of the School of Arts & Sciences recently published her latest book, "Graphic News: How Sensational Images Transformed Nineteenth-Century Journalism." The 292-page book, part of the University of Illinois Press' "History of Communication" series, investigates how visual media ushered in the age of yellow journalism. 

Frisken's research on sensational imagery in nineteenth century media, in news stories about obscenity litigation, lynching, domestic violence, anti-Chinese bloodshed, among others draws light to the changing public consumption of the news. Newspapers and media companies would exploit visual journalism to increase profits often at the expense of marginalized, vulnerable groups.

According to the publisher, through intersectional analysis, Frisken's book "explores how these newfound visualizations of events during episodes of social and political controversy enabled newspapers and social activists alike to communicate—or challenge—prevailing understandings of racial, class, and gender identities and cultural power."

Dr. Frisken, whose research includes the history of journalism and visual culture, women's studies, and gender studies, also wrote "Victoria Woodhull's Sexual Revolution: Political Theater and the Popular Press in Nineteenth-Century America." She was the Project Director for the digital exhibit "Songs Without Words,” a collection of anti-lynching drawings published in African American periodicals during the late 19th century. Dr. Frisken earned her Ph.D. and M.A. in History and a Graduate Certificate in Women’s Studies from Stony Brook University and her B.A. in History from McGill University in Montréal, Canada.