James Agee And Walker Evans Essay

1452 words - 6 pages

James Agee and Walker Evans

Fortune Magazine, in July and August of 1936, sent James Agee and Walker Evans to research a story on sharecropping. In the preface of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Agee describes it as “a curious piece of work.” They were to produce “an article on cotton tenantry in the United States, in the form of a photographic and verbal record of the daily living and environment of an average white family of tenant farmers,” (IX). James Agee and Walker Evans set out to write and photograph an article for a magazine, and ended up experimenting with the form of the novel itself.

James Agee was born in 1909 in Knoxville, Tennessee, but was in the urban middle class, so ...view middle of the document...

The “article” was over 400 pages of controversial writing and even various book editors refused to publish it as a novel. Finally in 1941 it was published by Mifflin in Massachusetts after the author was forced to take out a few outlawed words in the state. They failed in their original mission to produce an “article,” but undoubtedly presented a “photographic and verbal record” of the average white southern tenant farmer families. By living with three different families for four weeks, Evans depicted their innermost sorrows through his photographs, and Agee portrayed and emboldened their spirit by his written words. The novel itself was an experiment in form, with Evans’ photos all placed in the front without captions, rather than dispersed throughout the novel. Even in the text, Agee continually stops himself mid-description and enters into a stream-of-consciousness describing the difficulties of articulating accurately the tenant families true expressions. For these reasons, it was considered a failure when it was published, but also for the same reasons it was considered an amazing success twenty years later in the 1960s.

In the Preface, Agee conveys that this “is a book only by necessity. More seriously, it is an effort in human actuality, in which the reader is no less centrally involved than the authors and those of whom they tell,” (XI). Agee seems to be reinventing the novel—“the text was written with reading aloud in mind,” (XI). In the Forward, Evans describes Agee as writing “devotedly and incessantly.” Evans goes on to say that everyone in the families becomes enamored with Agee and open up to him in a way that the text depicts precisely.

Evans’ images and Agee’s writings are both intended to convey the same concept, “the divinity of commonplace reality…and the predicaments of human divinity.” (XIV) However, they go about this in different fashions suitable to their specific mediums.

Evans’ photographs are all at the beginning of the book, fifty in number, and have no quotes or captions. The lack of writing attached to the pictures is of particular significance. In Evans’ mind the subjects of the photographs need no explanation, nor could an explanation do the subjects of the photographs any justice, as Agee himself confirms when recognizing his own inability to ’truly’ represent the families. Noticeably absent from the photographs is the photographer himself. In removing himself from the images, the photographs become an experience between the viewer and the images and not the viewer and the photographer and the image. In essence, subjectively Evans is trying to be totally objective. Evans is trying to allow the viewer to experience the feelings of nobility that he felt when he observed the subjects. Furthermore, not all of the pictures are portraits. In including objects, such as a pair of shoes, and buildings, Evans is trying to convey two features of the sharecropper’s...

Other Essays Like James Agee And Walker Evans

Movie Script Essay

665 words - 3 pages Walker Milner is a black American guy, 31 years old; He lives with his mother and sister. His brother died 7 years ago. His father, James Milner, only comes to see them once a month as he runs a weapon warehouse downtown. Walker is currently in a relationship with Jessica who works at the bank. He used to work for a secret agent company that used to spy on deadly criminals that were undercover, so undercover that even the police didn’t know

John Walker Research Paprer Essay

1704 words - 7 pages .” John Walker quoted in the book, Family of Spies: Inside the John Walker Spy Ring, authored by Pete Early (New York: Bantam Books, 1988). John Walker was born on 28 July 1937, the second son of James and Peggy Walker. His home life and upbringing was less than ideal, to say the least; his father was a violent alcoholic who eventually drove the family to bankruptcy and then abandoned them. As an adolescent, John Walker became first a

Film Critique Of Selznick's Films

2624 words - 11 pages Americans and people from other countries as well. Overall, it was the message that appealed to the audience the most and the modern day press agreed with this films message. But, this wasn't the absolute case. A famous film critic, at the time was very harsh on this film. He downplayed Selznick's attempt at portraying a typical American Family. In The Nation, James Agee writes about the home that the Hiltons reside in: "They live in an American

Black Women Comparative Book/Poem Study

1299 words - 6 pages 50 years ago black women were not seen as strong and independent. They were seen as subservient and vulnerable people, who were easy to take advantage of and treated disrespectfully. The power of literature challenges our expectations and has the ability to make us question the stereotype. In the novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the novel The Color Purple by Alice Walker, the poem Still I Rise By Maya Angelou and the poem I Am a

James K Polk As An American Character

2158 words - 9 pages administration. To few Presidents have been vouchsafed that inflexible purpose to obtain clear-cut objectives which animated James K. Polk"(Morris "Great Presidential Decisions: State Papers that Changed the Course of History" 152). During Polk's term of office, the United States acquired over 800,000 square miles of western territory and extended its boundary to the Pacific Ocean. The Polk Administration also achieved economic objectives by lowering

Implementation of Total Quality Techniques

1058 words - 5 pages business process and experienced a growth due to quality. References 1. Evans and Lindsay, Managing for Quality and Performance Excellence, 8th edition, South Western Cengage Learning, USA, 2009 2. James R. Evans, Quality and Performance Excellence: Management, Organizationand Strategy, 6th Edition, South-Western Cengage Learning, USA, 2010. 3. Besterfield et al, Total Quality Management, 3rd Edition, Pearson Education, 2008. 4. Evans and

Mari Evans

386 words - 2 pages Mari EvansMari Evans, born on July 16, 1923 in Toledo, Ohio, is a woman of many roles-poet, playwright, storyteller, screenwriter, television producer, college professor, editor, a member of many Associations, and a mother of two sons, William and Derek. She studied fashion design at the University of Toledo. From 1969 to 1990 she was a college professor at many colleges teaching African American literature and writer in residence. During

Peer Tutoring

961 words - 4 pages ; Stevens, R. Teaching functions. In M. C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook Of Research On Teaching (3rdEdition) New York: Macmillan, 1986. Rosewal, G. M., Mims, A. A., Evans, M. D., Smith, B., Young, M., Burch, M., Croce, R., Access Center Using Peer Tutoring To Facilitate Access. Washington, DC, 2004. . Salandanan, Gloria. “Methods of Teaching”, Lorimar Publishing, Inc. Cubao Quezon City, 2009. Spencer, V. G. Peer Tutoring and Students

Developing Core Values in Leadership

1104 words - 5 pages . The venture for good communi- cation is a never ending pursuit. According to James Schiro, “For any complex organization, effective communication is both an individual obligation and organizational challenge.” In that of developing core values it must be understood that for many years America has been considered an empire among many. William walker says, “It is often said that Americans are in denial about their global empire. Walker argues

Male Uppies Prefrence in Social Interactions

651 words - 3 pages environment and sexual experience in male guppies. Animal behavior. 84: 1023-1029. LINDSTROM, K., RANTA, E. 1993. Social Preferences by male guppies, poecilia-reticulata, based on shoal size and sex. Animal behavior. 46: 1029-1031. Edenbrow, M., Darden, S.K., Ramnarine, I.W., Evans, J.P., James, R., Croft, D.P., 2011. Environmental effects on social interaction networks and male reproductive behaviour in guppies, Poecilia reticulate. Animal behavior. 81: 551-558. Figure Legend: Figure 1 Figure 2 Focal Fish Zone: 29 cm Stimulus Zone: 7 cm Preference Zone: 4 cm

Police Corruption

1117 words - 5 pages paying the officer are guilty of a crime. Surveys have found that only five percent of those approached by a police officer for a bribe report the activity to the police (Walker & Katz, 2010). A study done by James J. Fyfe and Robert Kane on the New York City Police Department from 1975 through 1996 found that very few officers were found to have been involved in corruption or other forms of police misconduct. The data indicated that 1,543

Related Papers

"The Brooklyn Reader," Explain How They Use Descriptive Techniques To Portray Brooklyn. I Compared "Southeast Of The Island: Travel Notes" And "Sunday Dinner In Brooklyn."

511 words - 3 pages In James Agee's "Southeast of the Island: Travel Notes" and Anatole Broyard's "Sunday Dinner in Brooklyn," each author uses vivid imagery to portray Brooklyn. The writers discuss three points in each piece - their view of the city itself, family life in the borough, and their overall feeling of Brooklyn.First, the writers similarly illustrate their perspectives on the city in descriptive prose. On one hand, Broyard depicts the borough as

Cj Walker Essay

1019 words - 5 pages NAME: Madam C.J. Walker (birth name Sarah Breedlove) DATE OF BIRTH: December 23, 1867 PLACE OF BIRTH: Delta, Louisiana DATE OF DEATH: May 25, 1919 PLACE OF DEATH: Irvington-on-Hudson, New York FAMILY BACKGROUND: Sarah Breedlove, who later became known as Madam C. J. Walker, was born into a former-slave family to parents Owen and Minerva Breedlove. She had one older sister, Louvenia and brothers Alexander, James, Solomon

Team Effort: The Communities Created Through Sports

2679 words - 11 pages . Dir. Peter Burg. Perf. Billy Bob Thornton, Jay Hernandez, and Derek Luke. 2006. Film. Glory Road. Dir. James Gartner. Perf. Josh Lucas, Derek Luke and Austin Nichols. 2006. Film. Hoop Dreams. Dir. Steve James. Perf. William Gates, Arthur Agee and Emma Gates. 1994. Film. Hoosiers. Dir. David Anspaugh. Perf. Gene Hackman, Barbara Hershey and Dennis Hopper. 1986. Film. A League of Their Own. Dir. Penny Marshall. Perf. Tom Hanks

The 1970s Essay

3040 words - 13 pages their good times in the ghetto of Chicago (Roe). In this show, James Evans, husband of Florida Evans and father of 2 children, was a man who struggled to find work (Roe). When he was out of work, he would sneak out of his house and hustle people on the pool table to make some cash (Roe). When James had the luxury of being employed, he was usually working two jobs such as a dishwasher of a car washer (Roe). The jobs that James worked, however, were