Fellow Presentations, Lectures

Visual Democracy

The Photography of Dorothea Lange

In 1935 Dorothea Lange was hired by the New Deal administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt to document the impact of the depression on America's farms. But she soon went far beyond her assignment to challenge, visually, the limits of New Deal politics. In this lecture/presentation, Linda Gordon uses many of Lange's images to examine how she explored what documentary photography could do.

Part of the 2013–2014 Fellows Presentation Series


Linda Gordon is a professor of history and a University Professor of the Humanities at New York University. Her early books focused on the historical roots of social policy issues, particularly as they concern gender and family issues. More recently, she has explored other ways of presenting history to a broad audience, publishing the microhistory The Great Arizona Orphan Abduction (Harvard University Press, 1999) and the biography Dorothea Lange: A Life beyond Limits (W.W. Norton, 2009), both of which won the Bancroft Prize. She is one of only three historians to have won this award twice. 

At the Radcliffe Institute, Gordon is writing about social movements in the 20th-century United States, including not only progressive movements such as the New Left and the women's liberation movement, but also right-wing movements such as the Ku Klux Klan. She is also examining New Deal (1930s) artists and photographers as part of an artistic social movement, considering the contributions and limitations of art that attempts to support social justice.