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Documentary Expression and Thirties America - Essay Example

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In his book Documentary Expression and Thirties, William Stott offers a definition of documentary style and considers two important variants: the objective and factual account of events and the alternative which relies more on human issues than objectivity. In the thirties the…
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Documentary Expression and Thirties America
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Documentary Expression and Thirties America

Download file to see previous pages... The distinction between art and photography and whether or not documentary expression owed its genesis from fiction or non-fiction was also explored. Finally the matter of ethics in the treatment and presentation of documentary imagery was discussed.
William Stott in his book Documentary Expression and Thirties America covers an enormous range of topics and much of it is in a highly discursive and rambling style. However, it is possible to subdivide it into four principal themes: Documentary, The Documentary Motive and the Thirties, The Documentary Nonfiction of the Thirties, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.
First of all it is necessary to understand what he means by the documentary style. In its simplest form there are two possibilities: “an honest and reasonably objective report, or a case for the prosecution” (Stott, 1986). The second may be discarded, and we are left with two further forms: a factual, objective account which is left largely unedited, and therefore acquires the effect of being regarded as “official”, and secondly an account which is not necessarily objective but deals with human issues. An example of the latter is Sargeant’s account of his struggle with mental illness.
Another branch of documentary expression is to be found in social documentary, which may be said to increase the knowledge of public facts while “sharpening it with feeling (Stott, 1986) and keeping in touch with human feelings and emotion. It was also held that such a documentary style did not rely upon information so much as “the power to move.” Stott suggests that while the purpose is to encourage social improvement – public education at its most altruistic – reality is more cynical in that its real purpose is to shape attitudes towards certain public facts. An example of this type of “exposé journalism’ is to use a public figure or authority’s quotation to mean something else. For example, ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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