Making The Invisible Visible: Exhibiting Erotic Stanhopes
The Stanhope, a commercially produced, microphotographic novelty invented in 1859 by René Prudent Patrice Dagron (1819-1900), has rarely been critically studied or exhibited. Its use for erotic photography, and the challenges of its microscopic images and varied external forms, including watch fobs and smoking pipes, require new considerations and methods for exhibition display. This thesis examines the history and manufacture of the Stanhope, its “vernacular” status, and its use for erotic imagery in the mid- to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It then examines recent approaches to the installation of vernacular photographic objects in exhibitions, followed by suggested considerations for the exhibition of erotic Stanhopes, foregrounding their materiality and viewing experience, and contextualizing the historical frameworks of their production and use. The appendices recount the sorting, rehousing, documentation and inventory of the Stanhopes at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, which were used as primary examples.