“Contradictory” is the watchword in scholarship on Danish-American photojournalist Jacob Riis. “Wildly contradictory, morally schizophrenic”: so Keith Gandal describes Riis' work (18). “A deeply contradictory figure […] a conservative activist and a skillful entertainer who presented controversial ideas in a compelling but ultimately comforting manner”: such is the assessment of Riis offered by Bonnie Yochelson and Daniel Czitrom (xv). “The typical Victorian moralist,” but also the Progressive-so Tom Buk-Swienty proclaims him (239, XIII).

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