Lewis Carroll: stammering, photography and the voice of infancy

Smith, Lindsay (2004) Lewis Carroll: stammering, photography and the voice of infancy. Journal of Visual Culture, 3 (1). pp. 95-105. ISSN 1470-4129

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The physical act of photographing, along with those conceptual implications it held for visual representation in general, preoccupied Lewis Carroll more compulsively than any other activity. A novel conjunction of visual and verbal characterizes the photographic encounter as Carroll engineered it and that verbal space, the playful banter he enjoyed with a child model, was itself shaped by his idiosyncratic experience of speech as hesitant and imperfect. Throughout his life, the author of the Alice books was dogged by a stammer for which he sought help at various times. This article takes up the issue of Carroll's stammer to argue for the importance of a consideration of the speech impediment as informing the nature of his photographic practice. To date, critics have had little to say about Carroll's stammer, or 'hesitation' as he referred to it, regarding the impediment as compatible with his rather eccentric nature. However, I argue that the very conceptual turn necessary to draw a connection between a visual practice (photography) and a phenomenon of speech (stammering) affords significant access to those difficult and hesitant theoretical spaces between visual and verbal forms of representation.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: childhood, infancy, Lewis Carroll, 19th-century photography, speechlessness, stammering
Schools and Departments: School of English > English
Depositing User: Lindsay Smith
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 21:29
Last Modified: 03 Jul 2012 14:38
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/31454
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