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Politicking and Emergent MediaUS Presidential Elections of the 1890s$
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Charles Musser

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520292727

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520292727.001.0001

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The Stereopticon: Platform or New Media Form?

The Stereopticon: Platform or New Media Form?

(p.52) Chapter 2 The Stereopticon: Platform or New Media Form?
Politicking and Emergent Media

Charles Musser

University of California Press

Investigates the history of the stereopticon as a radically modernized magic lantern and its place in a larger US media formation. Using random word searches, its arch of popularity is traced from the 1860s to an 1890s apex, followed by a gradual decline. The coincidence of its emergence with the term “illustrated lecture” is noted, pointing towards the initial formation of the documentary tradition. Circa 1850 the Frederick and William Langenheim developed the photographic glass slide: a key element of the stereopticon dispositif. Ten years later John Fallon introduced the stereopticon as a form of screen entertainment. In 1871, the stereopticon began to be used for outdoor advertising; soon after it was used to promote candidates and issues.

Keywords:   stereopticon, Illustrated lecture, Frederick Langenheim, John Fallon, outdoor advertising, magic lantern, documentary

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