The photographer and city
: The work of A.R. Hogg in representing everyday life in early twentieth-century Belfast

  • Lucy Wray

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis uses the expansive surviving archive of Alexander Hogg (1870-1939) to explore representations of everyday life in early twentieth-century Belfast. These images provide visual records of the evolving nature of the city over the course of four decades. They make direct contributions to historical debates on the city, showing how poor housing conditions existed in the city, the efforts of charities and businesses, and how they used photography as marketing strategies. More than this, however, they are sources for understanding ‘the cultural politics of sight’ in the city. [1]They were sites through which mainly middle-class audiences could construct ideas and project anxieties about themselves, the poor, the city, and citizenship. Photographs thus not only recorded everyday life but shaped it. This thesis also considers the role of the photographer and the degree to which he influenced the images’ composition, content and message. Hogg’s photographs are considered within broader visual cultures. In addition to considering how Hogg’s work differed from common professional and amateur practice in Belfast, this thesis considers his work alongside the work of other photographers producing social-documentary, charitable and slum clearance work and acknowledges how it borrows from other Irish visual traditions preceding lens-based depictions.

[1] A term used by Erika Hanna in Snapshot stories: visuality, photography and the social history of Ireland (Oxford, 2020), p. 6.

Thesis embargoed until 31 July 2027
Date of Award02 Jul 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsAHRC Northern Bridge DTP
SupervisorOlwen Purdue (Supervisor) & Kieran Connell (Supervisor)


  • History
  • Irish history
  • photography
  • Belfast
  • visuality
  • cultural history

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