Visual Culture Studies


Marquard Smith

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    Preface and Acknowledgements

    This book introduces readers to a series of deliberations on Visual Culture Studies as an academic field of inter-disciplinary inquiry, and the key debates shaping and determining the study of visual cultures. The Introduction alone offers several interwoven ‘accounts’ of its inter-disciplinary genealogy, as well as including a consideration of the ways in which visual culture practice itself has led to new ways of seeing, knowing, and understanding the visual and its study.

    Following its Introduction, Visual Culture Studies comprises thirteen engaging and insightful interviews with influential European and North American intellectuals from across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences working today within a university context and necessarily beyond its ivory towers. As academics, scholars, researchers, teachers, and practitioners with an interest in questions of vision, the visual, and visuality, they have all contributed in provocative ways to disturbing the parameters of more traditional areas of study–such as History, Literature, Art History, Sociology, Religious Studies, Government, and Communication Studies–and in so doing have played a significant part in the possibility of establishing the discipline or inter-discipline variously known as Visual Studies, Visual Culture, or, as I'm calling it here, Visual Culture Studies.1

    Each interview, in turn, draws out the interests and commitments of the interviewees in order to interrogate critically the past, present, and future possibilities of Visual Culture Studies, the study of visual culture, and visual culture itself. In so doing, and in beginning from an attention to the specific concerns of a unique individual's body of research, writings, and practice, the Introduction and the interviews concentrate on three broad areas of deliberation: (1) the intellectual and institutional status and potential of Visual Culture Studies; (2) the histories, genealogies, and archaeologies of visual culture and its study; and (3) the diverse ways in which the experiences of vision, or the visual, can be articulated and mobilized to political, aesthetic, and ethical ends.

    The Intellectual and Institutional Status of Visual Culture Studies

    What is visual culture or visual studies? Is it an emergent discipline, a passing moment of inter-disciplinary turbulence, a research topic, a field or subfield of cultural studies, media studies, rhetoric and communication, art history, or aesthetics? Does it have a specific object of research, or is it a grab-bag of problems left over from respectable, well-established disciplines? If it is a field, what are its boundaries and limiting definitions? Should it be institutionalized as an academic structure, made into a department or given programmatic status, with all the appurtenances of syllabi, textbooks, prerequisites, requirements, and degrees? How should it be taught? What would it mean to profess visual culture in a way that is more than improvisatory?

    W.J.T. Mitchell (2002: 165–66)

    W.J.T. Mitchell's quotation, above, taken from an article entitled ‘Showing Seeing: A Critique of Visual Culture’ and published in the Journal of Visual Culture in 2002 raises a series of questions in order to point out, confront, and begin to critique the current intellectual and institutional status of Visual Culture Studies. As Mitchell goes on to outline in that article, even though the field of inquiry is still in its infancy, it has already become complacent. The questions he raises begin an important examination of some of the ways in which this is the case. His interrogation raises many of the issues that must be addressed in any deliberation on the subject of Visual Culture Studies, for they are questions of definition, of disciplinarity, and of the ‘object’ of visual culture, as well as questions for academic institutions and for pedagogy. These questions in turn lead to others: what is Visual Culture Studies? Is this field of inquiry a discipline, a sub-discipline, an inter-discipline, or something else? Why are the bonds between Visual Culture Studies and its intersecting fields of inquiry, the very fields that inform it, so tense? What is the purview or object domain of Visual Culture Studies, or, rather, what is the ‘object’ of study of Visual Culture Studies? What objects or artefacts or media or environments are ‘appropriate’ for or particular to this field of inquiry? Has the ‘object’ of visual culture found a faithful interpreter in the scholar of Visual Culture Studies? What role does the intellectual play in interrogating our visual cultures, and, in so doing, in shaping Visual Culture Studies? And finally, what does it mean for Visual Culture Studies to be taught, and how should this teaching take place? These are some of the questions with which we struggle in Visual Culture Studies as the interviewees and I seek to delineate the intellectual and institutional status and possibilities of this field of inquiry.

    There are many more questions here than there are answers. As we shall go on to discover, this is one of the troubles, as well as one of the pleasures, of Visual Culture Studies.2 With this in mind, this book will propose multi-faceted ways of engaging with these often quite seemingly straightforward and yet deeply intricate questions which have enormous implications for those of us concerned with the study of the past, present, and future of our visual cultures.

    The Histories, Genealogies, and Archaeologies of Visual Culture and its Study

    Already in its short lifetime, Visual Culture Studies has been accused of ahistoricsm. That is to say, historians and theorists of the study of visual culture are said to often concentrate their attentions on the objects, artefacts, media, and environments of recent and contemporary visual culture: photography, film, video, and the internet, as well as other visual spectacles of entertainment, information, and commodity circulation. The positive ‘take’ on this accusation–and this is certainly the case–is that Visual Culture Studies has played a key role in exploring and explaining our contemporary visual culture as it takes place in an ever-changing global context. With its attention to transnational media and the global public sphere, Visual Culture Studies, we can say with confidence, evidences a cultural genealogy of the emergence of globalization. The negative ‘take’ on the accusation of ahistoricism in Visual Culture Studies is that with its over-attention to the present, its present-ism, it is said to spotlight mediated and re-mediated encounters with such recent communication technologies at the expense of the historical and critical interrogation of earlier forms of visual culture and their study. Similarly, Visual Culture Studies’ over-interest in ‘theoretical’ ways of seeing and practices of looking, knowing and understanding, visual and scopic regimes and technologies of vision, makes it further open to and guilty of charges of ahistoricism. In these and other ways, critics say that Visual Culture Studies has contributed to an anthropological turn, a turn away from history and the lessons of history, and towards a synchronic study of culture.3

    While this can certainly be said to be true in some cases, it is then ironic that two of the founding texts of Visual Culture Studies, Michael Baxandall's Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy, a social history of style and the period eye, and Svetlana Alpers’ The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century, a study of seventeenth century Dutch description, representation, images, appearance, cartography, and visuality are decidedly not contemporary–at least as far as their subject matter is concerned.4 (In addition developments in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, in, say, Marxist art history, feminist film theory, postcolonial considerations of the politics of representation, and gay and lesbian studies into the identity politics of visibility and invisibility, are testament to an ongoing commitment to interrogate the histories of visual cultures.)

    With this in mind, the Introduction and the interviews collected for Visual Culture Studies question the perceived crisis in/of history that Visual Culture Studies seems to both signal and to which it draws attention. In putting in place some of the histories, genealogies, and archaeologies of visual culture and its study, the book ponders the place of philosophies of history from Kant and Hegel onwards for Visual Culture Studies, asking how in turn the field of inquiry might affect such models. The considerations in these interviews, then, begin from the premise that while Visual Culture Studies as an academic, professional, and bureaucratic area of study may have emerged only recently, the study of visual culture, to say nothing of visual culture itself of course, has a much longer history.

    Experiences of Vision or the Visual

    In light of this, the interviews in Visual Culture Studies attend to historical and conceptual specificity, and they do so by concentrating on experiences of vision, the visual, and visuality. They ask for instance: how do cultural histories of vision reveal to us the different ways in which earlier historical moments, as well as our own, bustle with, to quote Svetlana Alpers (1996), their own ‘notions about vision […,] on image making devices […,] and on visual skills […] as cultural resources'? How, similarly, can distinct ways of seeing and practices of looking embedded in the experiences of the past–from the art of describing to the optical unconscious, from scopic regimes to phenomenological perception, glances, glazes, spectacles, for example–be understood in subsequent moments through archival, historical, material, conceptual, and interpretive means? And how do such understandings of the past shed light on the present in order to further engage contemporary visual culture, and its futures?

    In all of this, the interviews here are caught up in considering critically the pitfalls and possibilities of Visual Culture Studies; the very historical and contemporary experiences of vision or the visual as they are comprehended by those drawn to, seeking to outline, and encourage the study of visual culture.

    At the same time, the interviews probe into how and why intellectuals are stimulated or provoked or enraged by, worry over, and feel vulnerable when faced by certain kinds of political issues, cultural debates, and visual culture practices. There is in evidence here a healthy anxiety that intellectuals feel in characterizing Visual Culture Studies–or what some of them call Visual Culture or Visual Studies–as there should be amongst those participating in any emerging field of inquiry. This is the case because Visual Culture Studies is well aware of itself–as newer, and indeed more established disciplines need to be–as a living methodology. It is a living methodology whose very ground is transformed continuously as new political situations, ethical dilemmas, historical documents, conceptual turns, and the new objects, artefacts, media, and environments of visual culture, and questions posed of and by visual culture, impress themselves upon our fields of vision. In fact, as a living methodology, rather than a discipline, a sub-discipline, a field of study, a tactic, or a movement we may end up discovering, following Michael Ann Holly, something we might have known all along: that Visual Culture Studies is in fact ‘an intellectual attitude'. It is a sensibility. It names a problematic. Bursting with intellectual attitude, the intellectuals interviewed in Visual Culture Studies offer historical and conceptual accounts of their decisions as researchers, scholars, teachers, critics, curators, and practitioners as they seek to engage, speak with, and mobilize this problematic: Visual Culture Studies as a living methodology.

    The Medium of the Interview

    Visual Culture Studies engages directly with the debates outlined above in order to: interrogate the status of Visual Culture Studies as a discipline, or field of study; consider its diverse genealogies; and reflect upon the ways in which it has transformed and continues to transform our means of knowing, our practices of looking, and our ways of seeing and doing. It does this both in its Introduction, and by way of the interviews. The book presents a series of conversations with intellectuals from across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences who have made key contributions–historically and/or conceptually–to the formation of Visual Culture Studies, and our abilities to think visual culture in all its fascinating, fractious, and often contradictory complexities.

    In proposing that Visual Culture Studies is both a living methodology and an intellectual attitude, the medium of the interview, an invention of nineteenth century journalism, reveals itself to be a most ideal format. Interviews, then, form the basis of this book for a number of reasons.5

    First, interviews foreground the figure of the intellectual as a scholar, a researcher, a teacher, a contributor to the formation of Visual Culture Studies and visual culture itself. All of the intellectuals interviewed here inhabit positions in the university and its contexts of academic and professional life and in the public sphere where their activities contribute profoundly to the wider civic community. (There may or may not be contradictions and conflicts of interest in such dual inhabiting.) They are cultural forces. They care about ideas, and the urgency of ideas. They are committed to participation. They take their responsibilities seriously, but not always too seriously. They are not afraid to learn in public. The intellectual, writes Edward Said in 1994, is an individual ‘endowed with a faculty for representing, embodying, articulating a message, a view, an attitude, philosophy, or opinion to, as well as for, a public'.6 I believe this is true of the individuals interviewed in Visual Culture Studies.

    Second, the medium of the interview offers affable, personal insights into the research, writings, and activities of these particular individuals, and the drives and agendas that motivate their thought, as well as a focus on their own intellectual development. The interviews published here–and this is something articulated well by Peter Osborne in his book of interviews entitled A Critical Sense: Interviews with Intellectuals–are ‘intended to provide contextual elaborations, more accessible formulations, and extensions of the theoretical and political views of their authors–as a way into, rather than a substitute for, their other writings'.7

    Third, as an encounter, the interview presents what I'd call thoughts-in-formation. It is a snapshot of current thinking for Visual Culture Studies. In conducting interviews with intellectuals based in and thinking across the fields of History, Cultural Studies, Sociology, Literature, Film Studies, Art History, Media Studies, Performance Studies, Government, Disability Studies, Communication Studies, and the Visual Arts, we get a real sense of current thinking across the Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences. The interview gives interviewees the opportunity to contemplate their previous, current, and imminent research, the limitations and possibilities of Visual Culture Studies as it takes place, and an engagement with the conceptualization and mobilization of their aesthetic, political, and ethical encounters with the objects, subjects, media, and environments of visual culture itself–as well as their studies of it. Because of this, there is often a wonderfully informal and dialogical quality to the interview. The outcome of conversation is not pre-determined. Speculating–carefully, wildly, and elliptically–about the future of Visual Culture Studies is a must. For me, this is in keeping with the sensibility of Visual Culture Studies and its studies of visual culture: as a living methodology. Things are not determined in advance. Rather, transformations in Visual Culture Studies–as well as the transformative potential of studies of visual culture–are enacted in encounters such as this. This is how new things yet to suggest themselves, that belong to no one, can take shape, come into view, come into being.

    Fourth, the interview is live, or at least performs live-ness. In the main the interviews in this book took place face-to-face in England and the US, in hotel rooms and hotel bars, in cafes, around people's kitchen tables and around my own. Coffee, food, and alcohol were often a welcome accompaniment. There is something extraordinary about the immediacy of conversation: a series of genuine acts in real time; the apparent naturalness and veracity of improvized exchange; the sound and materiality of the voice, its resonance, its cadence, its unhurried qualities, and its urgency; pauses, the noises we make as we formulate our thoughts before we're ready to put things into words, over-speaking. And yet, this live-ness is not reproducible. Given the fleeting ephemerality of even powerful words, there is thus sometimes a need to preserve them.

    Some of the interviews did, though, take place in a more technologically mediated fashion, either via telephone or email. While they offer the interviewee more time to ponder, we have endeavored to retain a ‘sense’ of live-ness, to take on the characteristics of live-ness. Whether live or mediated, I affirm the medium of the interview as a format in which conversations can take place over time, since serious ideas and pressing thoughts need time to unfold. (Of course I am not trying to fool anyone: the raw material, the conversations, whether face-to-face, via the telephone, or email, are subject to editorial mediation too: they are transcribed and edited and re-edited, and sometimes ‘liveness’ is ‘injected’ into them after the fact. Some interviewees for instance decided to leave in the sound of their laughter, to pearl out from the page, while others decided against it.)

    Fifth, by way of conversation and exchange the medium of the interview builds community. As the individuals interviewed here will attest, no one person is capable on their own of constructing and developing an emerging field of inquiry such as Visual Culture Studies. Nor would they want to be. Collaborative building projects such as this need many hands, many voices, many ongoing conversations between individuals, institutions, organizations, and cultural practices. Whether we agree with one another is not the point. Better in fact if, sometimes, we don't agree. Conversations can be all the more productive because of this. For me such conversations are the basis of community. In my understanding of community, I follow Bill Readings (1996) in his still prescient book The University in Ruins. Here community is not based on unity and consensus but rather on a network of intellectual obligations, on the chance to think incomplete thoughts together, on occasions when we can raise the very question of ‘being-together', and, in so doing, picture the possibility of ‘the notion of community otherwise’ (1996, 20). This is how communities are made: between comradeship and conversation, debate and disagreement, hard work and will, hindsight and foresight, realism and utopianism. Sous les pavés, la plage!

    Such are the ambitions of the medium of the interview. They are all in keeping with the etymology of the word ‘interview’ itself, which comes from the French entre vue, to ‘see between'. I hope that Visual Culture Studies gives its readers the chance to do just that.


    I cannot thank enough the contributors to Visual Culture Studies. I'm enamored by their generosity, their thought, their willingness to contribute to a project such as this; and to be speculative, to embrace the interview format, the conversation, in this way. It's been a humbling process, and there's something terribly precious about all of this for me, and for that I'm enormously grateful.

    I'd like to express my appreciation to Julia Hall, my Commissioning Editor at Sage Publications. Julia has been behind this project from the beginning, and is also the personal responsible for commissioning–the person with the insight to want to commission–Journal of Visual Culture. In having recently left Sage after 15 or so years to pursue other publishing and non-publishing dreams, I wish her the best in all aspects of her new life.

    Thanks also go to the anonymous referees at Sage for their supportive and constructively critical comments on the initial proposal for this book. Useful comments one and all.

    Thanks to friends and colleagues for input of various kinds along the way: Jennifer Crisp, Anna Everett, Coco Fusco, Raiford Guins, Stuart Hall, Juliette Kristensen, Mark Little, Kobena Mercer, Laura Mulvey, Simon Ofield, Vivian Rehberg, Mila Steele, Rob Stone, Margi Thomas-Tanner, and to all my colleagues in the School of Art and Design History and the wider Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture at Kingston University, London. And of course a special thanks to Joanne Morra who has read this book, in parts, as it took shape, more times than I care to remember. She's still sceptical of Visual Culture Studies, but that's art historians for you.

    Dedications are strange things. How many times in our lifetime do we have the chance to dedicate something to someone in public? To acknowledge them, to proclaim our debt, to express our obligation, to say thanks. The nature of this project demands that I dedicate this book not to a person but to two educational milieu.

    The first is the BA(Hons) programme in History of Modern Art, Design and Film at Newcastle Polytechnic, now Northumbria University at Newcastle. As an 18-year-old living in London, planning to go to college, I knew that I wanted to travel 300 miles to the North East of England for this programme. I didn't know Newcastle, which I came quickly to love, or what a polytechnic was, or what a properly inter-disciplinary degree would be, or could do, but I must have known some of these things without realizing. I see now that same thing in my own undergraduate students, those who come to Kingston to study for degrees in Art, Architecture, and Film or Visual and Material Culture or Museum and Gallery Studies. They are doing it for the same reason: because even if they can't quite articulate it when they arrive, as I couldn't, they already have a sense that they necessarily begin their thinking and looking and experiencing from the truly inter, the inter-sensory, the inter-medial, and the inter-disciplinary. I'd like to thank everyone that was involved in making my time in Newcastle so stimulating, so surprising, so challenging, so rewarding. Whether they like it or not, it's in large part because of them that I'm doing what I do. The undergraduate programme at Northumbria has been going for more that 30 years now, here's to the next 30!

    The second dedication is to the Department of Fine Art (now the School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies) at University of Leeds. The Department housed the Centre for Cultural Studies, newly created as I arrived in Leeds for my MA in Cultural Studies. And it is where I continued my postgraduate studies. The Department has a long and illustrious history: it is synonymous with the formation of the social history of art. T.J. Clark set up a graduate programme there in 1976, and was canny enough to employ Griselda Pollock, Fred Orton, and Terry Atkinson (a founding member of Art & Language). Others such as Janet Wolff and John Tagg have taught there, before moving on to the US. During my MA at Leeds, and my PhD studies, I had the chance to work with an incredibly rich and diverse range of scholars from Art History/Visual Culture Studies (Griselda, Fred, and Adrian Rifkin, then head of the department), Cultural Studies (Barbara Engh), French Studies (Max Silverman and David Macey), Adult Education (Tom Steele), and History of the Philosophy of Science (John Christie). The intellectual life that these people brought to their Departments, to the University as a whole, was in itself a lesson in community.

    A book such as Visual Culture Studies would not exist without communities–networks of individuals and institutions and organizations–such as these. For me, Visual Culture Studies is an intellectual project, a way of thinking, and a way of teaching and learning–both in the classroom and in public. To an extent our intellectual preoccupations–and the very possibility of wanting to or being able to do intellectual labour–are down to our educational trajectory. This pedagogical formation often has as much if not more to do with good fortune and serendipity as it does with good judgement. I am glad of that.


    1 There are extensive ongoing debates concerning the designation of the field of study under consideration. See, for instance October's Visual Culture Questionnaire’ (1996); John A. Walker and Sarah Chaplin, Visual Culture: An Introduction (1997); Nicholas Mirzoeff (1998, 2002); Nicholas Mirzoeff (1999); Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright, Practices of Looking (2001); James Elkins, Visual Studies (2002); Hal Foster, Design and Crime (and Other Diatribes) (2002). For the purposes of this publication ‘Visual Culture Studies’–rather than ‘Visual Culture’ or ‘Visual Studies’–names the field of study while ‘visual culture’ designates the objects, subjects, media, and environments of study. The reasons for this will be discussed in my Introduction.

    2 In this, I distinguish fundamentally this book from Margaret Dikovitskaya (2005) that announces on its dust jacket how it will offer ‘an overview of this new area of study in order to reconcile its diverse theoretical positions'.

    3 See for instance ‘Visual Culture Questionnaire', October, 77 (1996) and Hal Foster (2002).

    4 Michael Baxandall (1972) and Svetlana Alpers (1983). Since then there have been numerous books and collections that continue to interrogate the visual culture of diverse historical periods, such as Claire Farago (1995); Pamela Selwyn and Valentine Groebner (2004); and Vanessa Schwartz and Jeannene Przyblyski (2004). Jonathan Crary's research (1990) remains exemplary in this regard.

    5 For important collections of interviews, in which the interview format itself is foregrounded, see Peter Osborne (1996), Paul Bowman (2003), and Dikovitskaya (2005). The first is situated firmly within Continental Philosophy while the second is within Cultural Studies, and neither collection is concerned with Visual Culture Studies, questions of vision, the visual, and visuality except in passing. Margaret Dikovitskaya's collection concentrates its attentions on the recent development of ‘Visual Studies’ programmes in US universities. Also on interviews see Jacques Derrida (1995); Derrida and Bernard Stiegler (2002 [1996]); Gayatri Spivak (1990); and Raymond Williams (1979). On the artist interview, see the themed issue of Art Journal (Fall 2005); a recent themed issue of Dialogue, an online arts magazine (July 2006-January 2007–accessed 10.03.07); and the 24-hour marathon interview organized by curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and architect Rem Koolhaas at The Serpentine Gallery in 2006.

    6 See Said (1994). On intellectuals, and intellectuals and interviews, see Peter Osborne, ‘Introduction: Philosophy and the Role of Intellectuals’ (1996). See also Paul A. Bové (1986); Michel Foucault (1977 [1972]); Bill Readings (1996); Bruce Robbins (1993); and Bruce Robbins (1996).

    7 Peter Osborne, A Critical Sense: Interviews with Intellectuals, xxiii, London: Routledge.

    Alpers, Svetlana (1983) The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeenth Century. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
    Alpers, Svetlana (1996) ‘Visual Culture Questionnaire’, October, 77 (Summer): 25–70.
    Art Journal (2005) vol. 64, no. 3, Fall.
    Baxandall, Michael (1972) Painting and Experience in Fifteenth-Century Italy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Bové, Paul A. (1986) Intellectuals in Power: A Genealogy of Critical Humanism. New York: Columbia University Press.
    Bowman, Paul (ed.) (2003) Interrogating Cultural Studies: Theory, Politics and Practice. London: Pluto Press.
    Crary, Jonathan (1990) Techniques of the Observer: On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
    Derrida, Jacques (1995) Points … Interviews, 1974–1994. (PeggyKamuf et al., trans.). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
    Derrida, Jacques and Stiegler, Bernard (2002 [1996]) Echographies of Television: Filmed Interviews. (J.Bajorek, trans.). Cambridge: Polity Press.
    Dialogue, ‘Inside the Interview: explaining the workings of the artist interview’ (July 2006-January 2007) at (accessed 10.03.06)
    Dikovitskaya, Margaret (2005) Visual Culture: The Study of the Visual after the Cultural Turn. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
    Elkins, James (2002) Visual Studies: A Skeptical Introduction. London: Routledge.
    Farago, Claire (ed.) (1995) Reframing the Renaissance: Visual Culture in Europe and Latin America: 1450–1650. New Haven: Yale University Press.
    Foster, Hal (2002) Design and Crime (and Other Diatribes). London: Verso.
    Foucault, Michel (1977 [1972]) ‘Intellectuals and Power: A Conversation Between Michel Foucault and Gilles Deleuze’ [1972], in MichelFoucault, Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews (ed. Donald F.Bouchard). Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
    Jones, Amelia (ed.) (2003) Visual Culture and Feminism. London: Routledge.
    Mirzoeff, Nicholas (ed.) (1998/2002) The Visual Culture Reader. London: Routledge.
    Mirzoeff, Nicholas (1999) An Introduction to Visual Culture. London: Routledge.
    Mitchell, W.J.T. (2002) ‘Showing Seeing: A Critique of Visual Culture’, Journal of Visual Culture, 1(2): 165–81.
    Osborne, Peter (1996) A Critical Sense: Interviews with Intellectuals. London: Routledge.
    Readings, Bill (1996) The University in Ruins. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
    Robbins, Bruce (1996) Secular Vocations: Intellectuals, Professionalism, Culture. London: Verso.
    Robbins, Bruce (1993) ‘Introduction: The Phantom Public Sphere’, in BruceRobbins (ed.) The Phantom Public Sphere. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press.
    Said, Edward (1994) Representations of the Intellectual: The 1993 Reith Lectures. London: Vintage.
    Schwartz, Vanessa and Przyblyski, Jeannene (eds.) (2004) The Nineteenth Century Visual Culture Reader. London: Routledge.
    Selwyn, Pamela and Groebner, Valentine (eds.) (2004) Defaced: The Visual Culture of Violence in the Late Middle Ages. New York: Zone Books.
    Spivak, Gayatri (1990) The Post-Colonial Critic: Interviews, Dialogues, Strategies (ed. SarahHarasym). London: Routledge.
    Sturken, Marita and Cartwright, Lisa (2001) Practices of Looking. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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    Williams, Raymond (1979) Politics and Letters: Interviews with ‘New Left Review’. London: Verso.

    The Editor

    Marquard Smith is a founder and the editor-in-chief of the Journal of Visual Culture (Sage Publications). He is course director of the MA in Art and Design History in the School of Art and Design History, Kingston University, London, where he is Reader in Visual and Material Culture. Marq is the editor and co-editor of over a dozen volumes and themed issues of journals, including Cultural Studies and Philosophy (1996) Translating Algeria (Taylor & Francis, 1998), The Reinterpretation of Dreams (Taylor & Francis, 2000), The Limits of Death (Manchester University Press, 2000), and The Prosthetic Aesthetic (Lawrence & Wishart, 2002). Most recent publications include: Stelarc: The Monograph (edited, The MIT Press, 2006), The Prosthetic Impulse: From a Posthuman Present to a Biocultural Future (co-edited, The MIT Press, 2005), and Visual Culture: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, a four volume co-edited Major Works project for Routledge (2006), He is currently writing two books, Moving Bodies … Mostly Human and The Erotic Doll: A Tale of Artificial Love.

    Notes on Contributors

    Mieke Bal, a well-known cultural critic and theorist, is Royal Dutch Academy of Science Professor, Professor of the Theory of Literature at the University of Amsterdam, and A.D. White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University. A co-founder of the Visual and Cultural Studies programme at Rochester, among Bal's many books are: A Mieke Bal Reader (2006), Travelling Concepts in the Humanities (2002), Louise Bourgeois’ Spider: The Architecture of Art-Writing (University of Chicago Press, 2002), Looking In: The Art of Viewing (G&B Arts International, 2001), and Quoting Caravaggio: Contemporary Art, Preposterous History (University of Chicago Press, 1999).

    Giuliana Bruno is Professor of Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University. She is the author of Streetwalking on a Ruined Map (Princeton, 1992) and Atlas of Emotion: Journeys in Art Architecture, and Film (Verso, 2002), and her latest books are Jane and Louise Wilson: A Free and Anonymous Monument (Film and Video Umbrella/The Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, 2004) and Public Intimacy: Architecture and the Visual Arts (The MIT Press, 2007).

    Susan Buck-Morss is Professor of Government at Cornell University, and author of The Origins of Negative Dialectics (The Free Press, 1977), The Dialectics of Seein (MIT, 1989), Dreamworld and Catastrophe: The Passing of Mass Utopia in East and West (MIT, 2000), and Thinking Past Terror: Islamism and Critical Theory on the Left (Verso, 2003).

    Lisa Cartwright is Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and the Graduate Science Studies Program at the University of California at San Diego. She is co-author of Practices of Looking (Oxford 2001), author of Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine's Visual Culture (Routledge, 1995), co-editor of The Visible Woman (NYU Press, 1998), and author of Moral Spectatorship and Images of Waiting Children: The Visual Culture of Transnational Adoption (both forthcoming, Duke University Press).

    Mark A. Cheetham is Professor of Art History in the Department of History of Art at University of Toronto. His books include: Abstract Art Against Autonomy (Cambridge University Press, 2006); Kant, Art, and Art History: Monuments of Discipline (Cambridge University Press, 2001); and The Rhetoric of Purity (Cambridge University Press, 1991), and co-editor of The Subjects of Art History (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Theory Between the Disciplines (University of Michigan Press, 1990).

    Lennard J. Davis is Professor of English, Disability Studies, and Medical Education, as well as Director of Project Biocultures at University of Illinois at Chicago. His recent publications include: Enforcing Normalcy: Disability, Deafness, and the Body (Verso, 1995, reprinted 2000), Disability Studies Reader (edited, Routledge, 1997, reprinted 2007), My Sense of Silence (University of Illinois Press, 2000), and Bending over Backwards: Essays on Disability and Disability Culture (NYU Press, 2001). He has a book forthcoming on obsession with The University of Chicago Press.

    Hal Foster is Townsend Martin, Class of 1917, Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University. Internationally regarded for his provocative writings on twentieth century art practice, and as an editor of the journal October, Professor Foster is the author of Prosthetic Gods (The MIT Press, 2004), on the relation between modernism and psychoanalysis, Design and Crime (and Other Diatribes) (Verso, 2002), The Return of the Real (The MIT Press, 1996), Compulsive Beauty (The MIT Press, 1993), Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics (Bay Press, 1985), and editor of the defining The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture (Pluto Press, 1983), among other books. Recent and forthcoming books include Art Since 1900, a co-authored textbook on twentieth-century art, as well as a survey of Pop Art.

    Paul Gilroy is a cultural practitioner and critic, a DJ, and, after a stint as Professor of Sociology and African American Studies at Yale University, is back in England as Professor of Sociology in the Department of Sociology at the London School of Economics. Along with numerous key articles on Black British, European, and American visual, acoustic, and cultural studies, he is the author of After Empire: Multiculture or Postcolonial Melancholia (Routledge, 2003), Against Race: Imaging Political Culture Beyond the Color Line (Harvard, 2000), The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness (Harvard, 1993), Small Acts: Thoughts on the Politics of Black Cultures (Serpent's Tail, 1993), and There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (Hutchinson, 1987).

    Michael Ann Holly is Director of Research and Academic Program at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts, and was previously Director of the Visual and Cultural Studies Program at Rochester, of which she was the co-founder. She is the author of Panofsky and the Foundations of Art History (Cornell University Press, 1985), Past Looking: Historical Imagination and the Rhetoric of the Image (Cornell University Press, 1996), and co-editor of a series of key collections in the development of Visual Culture Studies such as Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation (Polity Press, 1990), Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations (Wesleyan University Press, 1994), The Subjects of Art History (Cambridge University Press, 1998), and Art History, Aesthetics, and Visual Studies (Clark, 2003).

    Martin Jay is Sidney Hellman Ehrman Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. Co-editor of Vision in Context (Routledge, 1996), his books include Permanent Exiles: Essays on the Intellectual Migration from Germany to America (Columbia University Press, 1990), The Dialectical Imagination: A History of the Frankfurt School and the Institute of Social Research, 1923–1950 (University of California Press, 1976), Adorno (Harvard University Press, 1984), Marxism and Totality: The Adventures of a Concept from Lukács to Habermas; Downcast Eyes: The Denigration of Vision in Twentieth-Century French Thought (University of California Press, 1993), Cultural Semantics: Keywords of Our Time (University of Massachusetts Press, 1998), Refractions of Violence (Routledge, 2003), and Songs of Experience: Modern American and European Variations on a Universal Theme (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005).

    Nicholas Mirzoeff is Professor in the Department of Art and its Professions, New York University. He is author of Silent Poetry: Deafness, Silence, and Visual Culture in Modern France (Princeton, 1995), Bodyscape: Art, Modernity, and the Ideal Figure (Routledge, 1995), An Introduction to Visual Culture (Routledge, 1999), and Visions of Babylon: Watching the War in Iraq (Routledge, 2004), and editor of Diaspora and Visual Culture (Routledge, 1999), and the Visual Culture Reader (1998 [2nd edition, 2002]).

    W.J.T. Mitchell is Gaylord Donnelley Distinguished Service Professor for English and Art History, The University of Chicago. Editor of Critical Inquiry, among his many books he is the author of The Last Dinosaur Book (University of Chicago Press, 1998), Picture Theory (University of Chicago Press, 1994), Iconology: Image, Text, Ideology (University of Chicago Press, 1986), and What Do Pictures Want? (University of Chicago Press, 2005.)

    Keith Moxey is Ann Whitney Olin Professor of Art History at Barnard College and Columbia University in New York City. He is the author of books on the historiography and philosophy of art history, and his publications include The Practice of Persuasion: Politics and Paradox in Art History (Cornell University Press, 2001), The Practice of Theory: Poststructuralism, Cultural Politics and ArtHistory (Cornell University Press, 1994), and Peasants, Warriors, and Wives: Popular Imagery in the Reformation (University of Chicago Press, 1989). He is the co-editor of a series of key collections in the development of Visual Culture Studies such as Visual Theory: Painting and Interpretation (Polity Press, 1990), Visual Culture: Images and Interpretations (Wesleyan University Press, 1994), The Subjects of Art History (Cambridge University Press, 1998), and Art History, Aesthetics, and Visual Studies (Clark, 2003).

    Peggy Phelan is the Ann O'Day Maples Chair in the Arts at Stanford University, having worked in the Department of Performance Studies, Tisch School of the Arts, New York University, from 1985 to 2002. She is the author of Unmarked: The Politics of Performance (Routledge, 1993), Mourning Sex: Performing Public Memories (Routledge, 1997), and the forthcoming Death Rehearsals: The Performances of Andy Warhol and Ronald Reagan, as well as survey essays for the art catalogues Art and Feminism (Phaidon, 2001) and Pipilotti Rist (Phaidon, 2001). She is co-editor with the late Lynda Hart of Acting Out: Feminist Performances (University of Michigan Press, 1993) and with Jill Lane of The Ends of Performance (New York University Press, 1998). Professor Phelan has also written plays and performances, and has exhibited her visual art.

    Vivian Sobchack is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media, UCLA. She was the first elected woman President of the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and is on the Board of Directors of the American Film Institute. Her essays have appeared in journals such as Quarterly Review of Film and Video, Artforum International, camera obscura, Film Quarterly, and Representations, and she has edited two anthologies: Meta-Morphing: Visual Transformation and the Culture of Quick-Change; and The Persistence of History: Cinema, Television, and the Modern Event. Her own books include Screening Space: The American Science Fiction Film, The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience, and Carnal Thoughts: Embodiment and Moving Image Culture.

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