The Civil War was the first 'image war', as photographs of the battlefields became the dominant means for capturing an epochal historical moment. At the same time, writers used the Civil War to present both their notions of nation and their ideas about the new intersections between photography and literary form. Through The Negative offers an account of the collisions between print and visual culture in the work of Hawthorne, Melville, Twain and Crane as they responded to and incorporated the work of such photographers as George Barnard, Alexander Gardner and Jacob Riis. Through the Negative examines how key nineteenth-century American writers attempted to combat, understand, and incorporate the advent of photography in their fiction. In so doing, Megan Williams demonstrates how analyzing the impact of photography on the diverse narrative histories of the nineteenth century yields fresh insights about contemporary art and writing, as the photographic image continues to shape national consciousness.