Writing Biography: Historians & Their Craft

By Lloyd E. Ambrosius | Go to book overview
Save to active project

5. Ut Pictura Poesis; or, The Sisterhood of
the Verbal and Visual Arts

Nell Irvin Painter

As a biographer, I propose to bring together two ordinarily separate fields, black studies and art history. I urge biographers - particularly of subaltern subjects - to break their methodological habits and make full use of pictures. “Subaltern subjects” refers to individuals who are oppressed on account of their group identity, for instance, white women and members of stigmatized minorities. In recognition of the possibility of subaltern subjects' exercising power over others, the term “subaltern” conveys the complexity of subordinate identities. Images contain a wealth of meaning about biographical subjects and about the cultural and historical conventions that mold subaltern identities.

African American studies understandably regards European cultural history with a certain distrust, for Western civilization has denigrated people of African descent since the institutionalization of the Atlantic slave trade and the building of American culture around the political economy of African slavery. Scholarship and popular culture express their negrophobia differently; whereas much scholarship pretends black people do not exist, popular culture has offered an abundance of stereotypes. Before the late twentieth century, black people all too often appeared in words or pictures as objects of insult. The combination of blindness and indignity still dismays Africana scholars and discourages us from burrowing too deeply into Western thought.

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Writing Biography: Historians & Their Craft


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 166

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?