From the Other Half to the Down and Out: Reflections on Poverty in the Documentary Mode


  • Jasmin Humburg Universität Hamburg



Poverty, Documentary, Photography, Television


This article investigates how poverty is negotiated in the social documentary mode. By considering the work of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine as well as scrutinizing two HBO documentaries, Down and Out in America“ (1985) and American Winter“ (2013), I argue that there is a continuous disparity between those who represent and those who are being represented. I will exemplify how this imbalance is facilitated through visual rhetoric and narrative form in documentary representations of poverty.

Author Biography

Jasmin Humburg, Universität Hamburg

Jasmin Humburg studied English and American Studies, Media Studies as well as Communication Studies at the University of Hamburg and at Johns Hopkins University. She holds a BA and an MA in English and American Studies. Currently she is a PhD Student and a research and teaching assistant at the Institute for English and American Studies at the University of Hamburg. Her dissertation project explores televisual narratives of poor America in the era of the ‘Great Recession’.




How to Cite

Humburg, Jasmin. “From the Other Half to the Down and Out: Reflections on Poverty in the Documentary Mode”. Current Objectives of Postgraduate American Studies, vol. 16, no. 1, May 2015, doi:10.5283/copas.223.




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