Faculty Fellow Lecture: Land's Princesses: The Women who Developed Polaroid

Thursday, March 21, 2019
12:40 PM - 2:00 PM
Memorial Union Building 330/332
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Umans, Katie

Nora A. Draper is Roland H. O’Neal Assistant Professor of Communication and a Research and Communications Consultant for the Prevention Innovations Research Center at UNH.  She was a 2017-2018 Faculty Fellow in the Center for the Humanities.

Professor Draper will discuss her research as a Fellow in a talk titled Land’s Princesses: The Women Who Developed Polaroid.  

The story of the Polaroid camera – among the most iconic media technologies of the twentieth century – is often told as the biography of one man: Edwin Land. A celebrated scientist and inventor, Polaroid’s longtime president is credited with pioneering a model of entrepreneurship in which technological innovation fundamentally changes artistry and culture. Land’s commitment to pairing technological progress with user-centric design has been cited by contemporary tech icons, including Steve Jobs, as a model. However, the narrative of a singular genius inventor elides the labor of those who fall outside this archetype. 

In a growing tradition of recovering stories that have been absent from histories of technology, this project combines archival research with contemporaneous interviews to understand women’s role in the research, development, branding, and marketing behind one of the United States’ most iconic consumer products. In particular, it focuses on a group of women whose liberal arts education was harnessed by Land to infuse an artistic sensibility into the company’s consumer technologies. Situated within media theory, science and technology studies, and feminist technology studies, this project explores how these women – known collectively in Polaroid folklore as “the Princesses” – personified the company’s intersecting interests in art and technology.  


 The Center for the Humanities annually hosts a series of informal lectures featuring the recipients of the previous year’s faculty fellowships. The talks focus on the fellows’ research. They provide an opportunity for faculty members to learn more about each other’s work and allow the Center to show off some of the intellectual riches it has helped foster. The goal of the series is to create a collegial environment that encourages discussion. 

photo of Prof Draper
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