5–6 pages of text exclusive of images, plus complete bibliography of all quoted and consulted sources, in The Chicago Manual of Style humanities long format

When an isolated image becomes an icon, it seems to take on an air of self-sufficiency and inevitability. Photographers, however, almost invariably work in series and, where the sequence of negatives or plates is available, it becomes possible to examine in detail the thought processes and the choices involved in making and framing the iconic image. Dorothea Lange’s 1936 photograph of Florence Owens, commonly known as the “Migrant Mother,” is a striking case in point. There are, in fact, five related negatives in addition to the much-celebrated exposure. Using the concepts and terminology explored in the lectures on the camera apparatus and the semiotics of the photographic image, analyze the choices that shape the coding of meaning in these six images and in the page from the contemporary magazine, Midweek Pictorial. From the point of view of meaning, what are the gains and losses in Lange’s most celebrated photograph? How is this further inflected by the way the image is presented in the magazine?

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