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Visual Culture

Images and Interpretations

Norman Bryson

Publication Year: 2013

"We can no longer see, much less teach, transhistorical truths, timeless works of art, and unchanging critical criteria without a highly developed sense of irony about the grand narratives of the past," declare the editors, who also coedited Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation (1990). The field of art history is not unique in finding itself challenged and enlarged by cultural debates over issues of class, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, and gender. Visual Culture assembles some of the foremost scholars of cultural studies and art history to explore new critical approaches to a history of representation seen as something
different from a history of art.

CONTRIBUTORS: Andres Ross, Michael Ann Holly, Mieke Bal, David Summers, Constance Penley, Kaja Silverman, Ernst Van Alphen, Norman Bryson, Wolfgang Kemp, Whitney Davis, Thomas Crow, Keith Moxey, John Tagg, Lisa Tickner.

Ebook Edition Note: Ebook edition note: all illustrations have been redacted.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press


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pp. v-vi

List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-xi

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pp. xiii-15

THIS anthology collects the work of fifteen lecturers who contributed to a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute entitled "Theory and Interpretation in the Visual Arts," held at the University of Rochester during July and August I989. Lecturers, organizers, participants, and visitors met daily for six weeks...

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pp. xv-xxix

THE academy is visibly changing. Other humanities have not suffered as much as the history of art from institutional inertia. Literary studies, for example, has welcomed the unsettling that the expanded rhetoric of theory has generated. In his survey of the impact...

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pp. 1-41

THE phrase, classing the body, invokes two related but distinct meanings. The general usage of class is as a synonym for group, set, or species. Processes of selection and comparison produce categorizations or classifications. In the wake of the vast historical...

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Men's Work? Masculinity and Modernism

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pp. 42-82

I WANT here to sketch some of the tangled relations between modernism and sexual difference in the decade between I905 and I9I5.1 In art history, these were the formative years of the British avantgarde: in I905 Augustus John was establishing his reputation, in I9IO...

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The Discontinuous City: Picturing and the Discursive Field

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pp. 83-103

THIS essay is concerned with orders of sense, regimes of visual meaning, and the discursive formations and practices of power in which they are constituted. It operates, therefore, at a particular level of specificity and does so with some point. It sets out to...

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Hieronymus Bosch and the "World Upside Down": The Case of The Garden of Earthly Delights

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pp. 104-140

THE writing of art history is often regarded as if it were a self-evident enterprise in which historians share common assumptions and common goals. What matters, it is thought, are not the theoretical assumptions and methodological procedures that animate...

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Observations on Style and History in French Painting of the Male Nude, 1785–1794

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pp. 141-167

WHEN might a drastic change in artistic style be a form of continuity? A necessary corollary to this question is to ask whether art-historical explanation requires at this moment a reinvigorated capacity for stylistic analysis, but one that would not be...

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The Renunciation of Reaction in Girodet's Sleep of Endymion

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pp. 168-201

AT one time art critics and historians aligned Girodet's remarkable painting Endymion, effet de lune (The Sleep of Endymion), painted in I79I and exhibited in the Salon of I793 (see Crow, fig. I), with considerably later images-produced toward the end of the...

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The Theater of Revolution: A New Interpretation of Jacques-Louis David's Tennis Court Oath

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pp. 202-227

AS artistes manquees, as would-be artists, we art historians feel a strong inclination toward the great unfinished projects. Here we are not only entitled but asked to complete what was left fragmentary. But especially in the case of works that never stood the test of...

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Géricault and "Masculinity"

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pp. 228-259

IN this paper, I bring together two distinct inquiries: the first, an inquiry into some aspects of the cultural construction of masculinity; and the second, an inquiry into certain works by the French nineteenth-century painter Theodore Gericault (1791-1824). But first, I...

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Strategies of Identification

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pp. 260-271

IDENTITY and alterity are key concepts in the hottest discussions in the humanities today. In the discipline of art history, "self" and "other" are being reflected on in diverging approaches, from historicism to gender studies. These concepts are hard to deal with...

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Fassbinder and Lacan: A Reconsideration of Gaze, Look, and Image

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pp. 272-301

IN this essay I will attempt to differentiate the gaze from the look, and hence from masculinity. I will also provide a theoretical articulation of the field of vision within which every subject is necessarily held.1 Although the paradigm I will advance differs in many respects...

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Feminism, Psychoanalysis, and the Study of Popular Culture

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pp. 302-324

THIS paper will explore some of the possible relations that can be forged among the three terms in its title, that is, among feminism, psychoanalysis, and the study of popular culture. I propose here at least one way those terms might productively be brought...

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The Ecology of Images

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pp. 325-346

AT least two urgent needs emerged from the war in the Gulf. First of all, the United States Congress needs to sit down and draft a constitutional amendment to ensure the separation of Press and State. That action would probably require a much better Congress than...

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Wölfflin and the Imagining of the Baroque

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pp. 347-364

FOR many years, historians of art seemed to have little trouble with the concept of the "baroque." Their confidence in using this periodic category was in large part a result of the descriptive power of Heinrich Wolfflin's influential text, Kunstgeschichtliche...

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Dead Flesh, or the Smell of Painting

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pp. 365-383

IN one of his paradoxical sketches (fig. I), Rembrandt represented the central scene of the biblical story ofJudges 19, arguably the most horrible story in the entire Hebrew Bible.! The sketch is a statement about death, signified by the movement of the dead body. This paradox...

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Form and Gender

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pp. 384-411

THIS paper is a slight revision of a lecture written to serve the fairly definite purpose of making the "archaeology of the discipline" of art history, and, more specifically, the "critical history of art" (as Michael Podro has called the foundational German tradition...

List of Contributors

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pp. 413-415


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pp. 417-429

E-ISBN-13: 9780819574237
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819552600

Page Count: 461
Publication Year: 2013