New publication launched by Elisa deCourcy & Martyn Jolly documenting the global career of showman daguerreotypist

Pictured is Elisa deCourcy and Martyn Jolly. Photo credit: Amr Tawfik
Monday 1 March 2021

Congratulations to Dr Elisa deCourcy, ANU School of Art & Design Research Fellow, and Associate Professor Martyn Jolly who officially launched their new publication on Thursday 18 February at PhotoAccess. Empire, Early Photography and Spectacle: the global career of showman daguerreotypist J.W. Newland (New York: Routledge, 2021), tells the story of James William Newland’s (1810–1857) career as a showman daguerreotypist.

Newland’s career began in the United States but expanded into Central and South America, across the Pacific to New Zealand and colonial Australia and onto India. Newland used the latest developments in photography, theatre and spectacle to create powerful new visual experiences for audiences in each of these volatile colonial societies. This book assesses his surviving, vivid daguerreotypes against other visual ephemera and archival records of his time. Newland’s magic lantern and theatre shows are imaginatively reconstructed from textual sources and analysed, with his short, rich career casting a new light on the complex worlds of the mid-nineteenth century. It provides a revealing case study of someone brokering new experiences with optical technologies for varied audiences at the forefront of the age of modern vision. This book will be of interest to scholars in art and visual culture, photography, the history of photography and Victorian history.

Find out more about the beginnings of photographic practice in the South Asian and southern hemispheric world; purchase a copy of the book online and use promotion code FLR40 to receive a special discount when ordering a hardcopy here. Digital version also available here for download.


"Driven by some extraordinary research, this fascinating book offers a new way of understanding early photography...and also illuminates the advent of the modernity in which we still live" — Professor Geoffrey Batchen, University of Oxford


"This fascinating book turns on its head ideas about Empire, and indeed colonial, visual culture...By focussing on someone apparently inconsequential, something of real substance emerges" — Richard Neville, Mitchell Librarian, State Library of New South Wales.


"...deCourcy and Jolly reveal both the historical and ongoing relevance of photography as a global visual media" — Associate Professor Donna West Brett, University of Sydney

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Updated:  25 February 2021/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications