TV Snapshots: An Archive of Everyday Life

Event Date: 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 11:30am

Event Location: 

  • SSMS 2135
Lynn Spigel
Frances E. Willard Professor of Screen Cultures at the School of Communication at Northwestern University
This talk explores my new collection of over 800 family snapshots depicting people posing in front of their TV sets in the 1950s and 1960s. I consider how snapshot cameras functioned as an appendage technology for television at the time when TV first came into US homes. Snapshots were a “thing to do” with TV beyond TV’s more obvious function as a spectator medium. These snapshots provide visual evidence of the social life into which TV inserted itself. They show us how people arranged their rooms for television and how they used it as an object of display. But, most importantly, they show us how people used TV as a backdrop for social performances of family life and social identities of gender, class, and race. In addition to considering these photos as a new form of visual evidence for the social practices surrounding TV’s innovation, I also explore their status as forms of “analog nostalgia” by considering why they have reappeared as valuable collectibles on the vintage market and online websites today.


Lynn Spigel