Wallace Nutting Analysis

1426 Words 6 Pages
Wallace Nutting was a purveyor of a past that fit his own conservative ideas. A charismatic salesman of history, he constantly sought to challenge the status quo. Thomas Denenberg uses Wallace Nutting’s brand of colonial idealism as a parallel with an American society on the precipice of social change at the turn of the century. Nutting successfully provided the middle class an escape from the adversity of the “machine age”. Using Wallace Nutting as a tool to discuss anti-modernism, Denenberg explores the various ways Nutting incorporated the neo-colonial lifestyle into a mainstream cult following in the early 1900’s.
Wallace Nutting was chiefly interested in the commercialization of photography. Nutting saw that photography was geared to an upper class set due to the expense of the equipment and services. His attention to the medium stemmed from a personal enjoyment of photography. Nutting started as a hobbyist and eventually became an accomplished photographer. As a salesman, he sought to widen the appeal and availability of photography to middle class America. He promoted photography as a therapeutic activity and a vehicle for escaping a fast paced society. Alternatively, Nutting marketed photography as a form of sport, employing bicycling as a means to photograph landscapes and
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Denenberg articulates, “By inventing a sentimental past, imbuing it with moral significance, and selling it at every turn, Wallace Nutting made American History available, attractive, and useful for the modern era.” Denenberg successfully draws modern parallels with the Nutting phenomenon. He connects the work of Martha Stewart and Thomas Kinkade as purveyors of a specific idealism to a more contemporary middle class consumer culture. Denenburg was successful in his articulation of Wallace Nutting, the “perfect yankee’s” neo-colonial empire. Moreover, he effectively charts Nutting’s successes and

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