6 posts by Miles Orvell

Miles Orvell is Professor of English & American Studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. Beginning with an interest in literature (his first book was on Flannery O'Connor), Orvell was gradually drawn to more of an interdisciplinary approach in his teaching and research. He got interested in photography when he discovered Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans, and the word/image connection has continued to fascinate him, evident in a collection of essays called After the Machine: Visual Arts and the Erasing of Cultural Boundaries. He's been writing about photography since the 1970s and taught courses on the history of photography at Tyler for many years, which inspired him to write American Photography for the Oxford History of Art Series (2003; revised and expanded in 2016). Other works over the years have encompassed literature, photography, material culture and spatial studies, including The Real Thing: Imitation and Authenticity in American Culture, 1880-1940 (1989), co-winner of the ASA's John Hope Franklin Prize; The Death and Life of Main Street: Small Towns in American Memory, Space, and Community ( 2012), a Finalist for the Zócalo Public Square Book Prize; Empire of Ruins: American Culture, Photography, and the Spectacle of Destruction (Oxford University Press 2021), which won the Prose Award for Best Book in Media and Cultural Studies, 2022 and the Athenaeum Literary Award for Art & Architecture. He was awarded the Bode-Pearson Prize in American Studies for lifetime achievement.

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