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Snapshot photography and a gendered poetics of the beach 1900-1920s
The natural beach environment - the hot sand and glistening surf - or at the very least lapping waves and pebbly shores had been attracting people to the beach as a site of leisure for centuries, but it was the development of seaside resorts (see Urry 1998; Metusela and Waitt 2012) in the early nineteenth century and the erection of infrastructures - boardwalks, beach huts, kiosks, changing sheds and signs informing bathers of the beach regulations, along with the presence of the new leisure seeker, the bather, that transformed the beach into a social space, a hybrid public domain, a 'liminal time-out' (Shields 1991: 85).
In this chapter, drawing from my own archive of snapshot photographs, I look through the camera's lens at the ways in which female performances recalibrated the beach in the early twentieth century through the creation of a beach poetics. Through an analysis of six early twentieth-century snapshot photographs from Australia, America and England, countries where the beach leisure culture was firmly entrenched, and also through advertisements and newspaper articles from the period, I will analyse how the power to enforce and to resist patriarchy was invested in the socially constructed zone between sea and land - the beach.
Publication titleTravel and representation
EditorsG Lean, R Staiff and E Waterton
Department/SchoolSchool of Social Sciences
Place of publicationUnited States
Rights statementCopyright 2017 Berghahn Books