Jay Ruby's Home Page

8 Fourth Street
Mifflintown, PA 17059
Phone -717-436-9502

Email - ethnographic@embarqmail.com

Jay Ruby interviewing Frank Zappa, 1970, New York city.

"Remember that there are parts of what it most concerns you to know which I cannot describe to you; you must come with me and see for yourselves. The vision is for him who will see it."


A Biographical Note

Jay Ruby, a retired professor of Anthropology at Temple University in Philadelphia, has been exploring the relationship between cultures and pictures for the past thirty years. His research interests revolve around the application of anthropological insights to the production and comprehension of photographs, film, and television. For the past two decades, he has conducted ethnographic studies of pictorial communication in a rural American community. He was educated at the University of California, Los Angeles, received a B.A. in History [1960], an M.A. [1962], and Ph.D. [1969] in Anthropology. A founding member and past president of the Society for the Anthropology of Visual Communication, past president and trustee of International Film Seminars, Ruby holds advisory and board memberships in a number of national and international organizations and is president of the Center for Visual Communication, a research co-operative. He has held visiting lectureships at the University of Pennsylvania in Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning, Rutgers University in Art, and in Anthropology at the University of California, Davis, the University of California, Santa Barbara, and Princeton University. Ruby co-produced, directed and wrote two award winning ethnographic documentaries, A Country Auction [1984] and Can I Get A Quarter? [1985] and served as consultant, advisor, and researcher on numerous films and television programs. Ruby has curated photographic exhibitions since 1974 including Images of the USA - Three European Photographers [1985], Fragments of A Dream: The Pittsburgh Photographs of W. Eugene Smith [1988] at the Arthur Ross Gallery, Philadelphia;Reflections on Nineteenth Century Pennsylvania Landscape Photography for Lehigh University [1986]; Something To Remember You By: Death and Photography in America at the Southeast Museum of Photography in Daytona Beach [1994]; and Not a Bad Shot: The Photographs of Francis Cooper, Woodmere Gallery, Philadelphia [1996]. In 1968 he founded the Conference on Visual Anthropology, an international event he directed until 1980. Included in his diverse film/video programming experience are the Flaherty Film Seminar, The Arden House Public Television Seminar, and The Annenberg International Conferences on Visual Communication. Ruby has been trained, conducted research, and published extensively in archaeology, popular music, film, television, and photography. Since 1960 he has edited a variety of scholarly and popular journals on American archaeology, popular culture, and visual anthropology including Studies in Visual Communication. and Visual Anthropology . He has edited a number of books including A Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspectives in Anthropology [University of Penn Press, 1981], Robert Flaherty, A Biography [University of Penn Press, 1982], Image Ethics [Oxford University Press, 1988] and Image Ethics in the Digital World.[2003, University of Minnesota Press] both co-edited with Larry Gross and John Katz. His writings have been translated into Spanish, German, Italian, Dutch, Finnish, Japanese, and Estonian. Among his single authored works are Secure The Shadow: Death and Photography in America, (1995, MIT Press), The Photographic World of Francis Cooper: Not A Bad Shot, a book length study of Francis Cooper, a nineteenth century Pennsylvanian photographer (1999,Pennsylvania State University Press) and Picturing Culture: Essays on Film and Anthropology (2000, University of Chicago Press). In 2006 he published four CD-ROM multimedia and one DVD ethnographies about his hometown, Oak Park, IL titled Oak Park Stories. The ethnographies are distributed by DER. Since 2008, he has been involved in a long term study of Southern California Bohemia so far resulting in the publication of an ehhanced book - Coffee House Positano - A Bohemian Oasis in Malibu - 1957-1962 and a web site - The Property: Malibu's Other Colony. In addition, he is editing a multi-authored book on the history of Southern California Bohemia.


Link to Jay Ruby's Publications Available On The Web