9 Pages

Introduction: Of Families and Portraits

ByKatherine Hoffman

This chapter looks at portraits and images of others to learn about the roots, about similarities and differences in the own circles of friends and families and in images of others who are total strangers. But what is a family? What is a portrait? There is no one answer to either question. The Latin root of the word family, familia, refers to servants in a household. The term family values is charged with social, political, economic, and emotional connotations as discourse in political campaigns, press conferences, editorials, and other places centers on crises in our nation that relate to our children and family life. The word family has also been extended to descriptions of small town communities, to national identities, and even to international networks made possible by computers and telecommunications. Portraits of and images related to family life have also changed over the course of history.