With the ‘cultural turn’, the concept of culture has assumed enormous importance in our understanding of the interrelations between social, political, and economic structures, patterns of everyday interaction, and systems of meaning-making. In The SAGE Handbook of Cultural Analysis, the leading figures in their fields explore the implications of this paradigm shift. Addressed to academics and advanced students in all fields of the social sciences and humanities, this Handbook is at once a synthesis of advances in the field, with a comprehensive coverage of the scholarly literature, and a collection of original and provocative essays by some of the brightest intellectuals of our time.
Chapter 8: Visual Analysis
Rembrandt's drawing later titled Judith Beheading Holophernes is a sketchy affair (Figure 8.1). If we didn't have the help offered by art-historical research that identified the theme, dated the sheet, and placed it in conjunction with other works by the artist as well as his contemporaries – to name a few of that discipline's major preoccupations – we could as well consider it the depiction of a mother putting to bed a child sick with a cold. The mother appears to be towering over the child, the child's nose red, his arm flung aside. In addition to this mother-child constellation, a secondary detail of the sheet helps identify the image's subject. The helmeted head, at the extreme right side of the sheet, ...