Eduardo Cadava

Eduardo Cadava is Philip Mayhew Professor of English at Princeton University. He is the author of Words of Light: Theses on the Photography of History, Emerson and the Climates of History, and Paper Graveyards. He has co-edited Who Comes After the Subject?, Cities Without Citizens, and The Itinerant Languages of Photography. He also has introduced and co-translated Nadar's memoirs, Quand j'étais photographe, which appeared with MIT Press in 2015 under the title When I Was a Photographer, and has curated installations and exhibitions at the MAXXI Museum in Rome, the Slought Foundation in Philadelphia, Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, the Al-Ma'mal Center for Contemporary Art in East Jerusalem, and the Princeton University Art Museum.

  • Politically Red

    Eduardo Cadava and Sara Nadal-Melsió

    Reading and writing are collective acts of political pedagogy, and the struggle for change must begin at the level of the sentence.

    “Reading is class struggle,” writes Bertolt Brecht. Marxism is not just a body of political and economic thought but also a practice of reading and writing, in which individual sentences give form to collective action and become social beings in their own right. Through a series of creative and interconnected readings of writings by, among others, Karl Marx, W. E. B. Du Bois, Rosa Luxemburg, Walter Benjamin, and Fredric Jameson, Eduardo Cadava and Sara Nadal-Melsió contextualize contemporary demands for social and racial justice by expanding our understanding of the relationship between literacy and class politics.

    Reading between the lines, as it were, Cadava and Nadal-Melsió engage in an inventive literary mode of activist writing that finds new resources for Marxist thought, crucial for confronting the inequalities of our current historical moment and for combating insurgent fascism and racism. Reading and writing, they argue, are never solitary tasks, but rather collaborative and collective, and able to revitalize our shared political imagination. Drawing on what they call a “red common-wealth”—an archive of vast resources for doing political work and, in particular, antiracist work—Cadava and Nadal-Melsió demonstrate that sentences, as dynamic repositories of social relations, are historical and political events.

    • Paperback $29.95
  • Paper Graveyards

    Paper Graveyards

    Eduardo Cadava

    A generously illustrated training manual for reading images, discussing work by Félix Nadar, Roland Barthes, Fazal Sheikh, Susan Meiselas, and others.

    Paper Graveyards is neither a work of traditional art history nor one of literary criticism. It is not strictly a history of ideas either, notwithstanding its very obvious erudition. Rather, in drawing upon all of these methods and approaches—and with extraordinary attention to language and style—Cadava's writing examines the spectacular explosion of images during the last twenty years as a prompt to discuss not simply specific images but the role and place of these images in our everyday life.

    Considering work by Félix Nadar, Roland Barthes, Leon Golub, Nancy Spero, Fazal Sheikh, Susan Meiselas, and others, Cadava delineates different modes of reading that, taking their point of departure from the conviction that the past, the present, and the future are always bound together, provide us with a training manual of sorts for understanding visual material in the twenty-first century. In the process, these generously illustrated essays actively expand our sense of literacy by reconstructing the networks of relations that inhabit the plural worlds of images, and create a critical genealogy of what we still call “an image,” even when, with every day that passes, we perhaps understand less and less what this might mean.

    • Hardcover $49.95


  • When I Was a Photographer

    When I Was a Photographer

    Félix Nadar

    The first complete English translation of Nadar's intelligent and witty memoir, a series of vignettes that capture his experiences in the early days of photography.

    Celebrated nineteenth-century photographer—and writer, actor, caricaturist, inventor, and balloonist—Félix Nadar published this memoir of his photographic life in 1900 at the age of eighty. Composed as a series of vignettes (we might view them as a series of “written photographs”), this intelligent and witty book offers stories of Nadar's experiences in the early years of photography, memorable character sketches, and meditations on history. It is a classic work, cited by writers from Walter Benjamin to Rosalind Krauss. This is its first and only complete English translation.

    In When I Was a Photographer (Quand j'étais photographe), Nadar tells us about his descent into the sewers and catacombs of Paris, where he experimented with the use of artificial lighting, and his ascent into the skies over Paris in a hot air balloon, from which he took the first aerial photographs. He recounts his “postal photography” during the 1870-1871 Siege of Paris—an amazing scheme involving micrographic images and carrier pigeons. He describes technical innovations and important figures in photography, and offers a thoughtful consideration of society and culture; but he also writes entertainingly about such matters as Balzac's terror of being photographed, the impact of a photograph on a celebrated murder case, and the difference between male and female clients. Nadar's memoir captures, as surely as his photographs, traces of a vanished era.

    • Hardcover $26.95
  • Photography Degree Zero

    Photography Degree Zero

    Reflections on Roland Barthes's Camera Lucida

    Geoffrey Batchen

    An essential guide to an essential book, this first anthology on Camera Lucida offers critical perspectives on Barthes's influential text.

    Roland Barthes's 1980 book Camera Lucida is perhaps the most influential book ever published on photography. The terms studium and punctum, coined by Barthes for two different ways of responding to photographs, are part of the standard lexicon for discussions of photography; Barthes's understanding of photographic time and the relationship he forges between photography and death have been invoked countless times in photographic discourse; and the current interest in vernacular photographs and the ubiquity of subjective, even novelistic, ways of writing about photography both owe something to Barthes. Photography Degree Zero, the first anthology of writings on Camera Lucida, goes beyond the usual critical orthodoxies to offer a range of perspectives on Barthes's important book.

    Photography Degree Zero (the title links Barthes's first book, Writing Degree Zero, to his last, Camera Lucida) includes essays written soon after Barthes's book appeared as well as more recent rereadings of it, some previously unpublished. The contributors' approaches range from psychoanalytical (in an essay drawing on the work of Lacan) to Buddhist (in an essay that compares the photographic flash to the mystic's light of revelation); they include a history of Barthes's writings on photography and an account of Camera Lucida and its reception; two views of the book through the lens of race; and a provocative essay by Michael Fried and two responses to it. The variety of perspectives included in Photography Degree Zero, and the focus on Camera Lucida in the context of photography rather than literature or philosophy, serve to reopen a vital conversation on Barthes's influential work.

    • Hardcover $29.95
    • Paperback $40.00