Modern French Visual Theory

Modern French Visual Theory : A critical reader
, Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford (eds), Manchester University Press, coll. « Theory of Art », 2013, 288 p.

ISBN : 978-0-7190-8130-9 ; £ 15,99.


When French theory went global in the late twentieth century its visual wing was understandably built on the work of its best-known thinkers, notably Foucault, Derrida, Barthes and Deleuze. However these names merely scratch the surface of a vibrant and innovative body of theory that has been produced in France over the last six decades. As well as a substantial interview with Sorbonne professor Bernard Vouilloux, this volume focuses on a range of theorists who usually sit under the academic radar, especially when outside of France: Arasse, Buci-Glucksmann, Damisch, Debray, Didi-Huberman, Heinich, Marin, Schefer and Stiegler. Also discussed is the important work on the visual by Baudrillard, Merleau-Ponty, Metz and Nancy.

All of these thinkers are given introductory and exploratory treatment here, and are allowed to talk between themselves. By looking at a wider set of theories and theorists relating to the visual, the debates are able to cross-fertilize, with the chapters divided into five major areas: phenomenology and beyond; new art histories and genealogies; semiotics and methodologies; memory and the body; and the digital era.

This volume brings together international scholars working within Visual Culture and Art History, to look in detail at a range of issues in French contemporary visual theory. The chapters cover the main media of visual culture: fine art, cinema, museology, photography, as well as the key philosophical coordinates of modern times – phenomenology, structuralism and semiology, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, sociology, aesthetics and Marxism. Throughout, the volume offers in-depth accounts of keywords, broad critical and historical contexts, and close attention to the language of visual theory.


Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford, « Introduction »

Part 1. Precursors : Phenomenologiy and Semiotics
1. Nathalie Aubert, « Merleau-Ponty : The Madness of Vision »
2. Martine Joly, « Christian Metz : Constructing Meaning in Film »

Part 2. New Art Histories and Genealogies
3. Ralph Dekoninck, « Daniel Arasse's Joyful Visual Science : In the Intimacy of History and Art »
4. David Packwood, « Dream Perspectives : Hubert Damisch, Psychoanalysis, and Early Modern Art History »
5. François-Xavier Gleyzon, « Christine Buci-Glucksmann : the Archaeology of Shadows or the Aesthetics of Image-Flux »

Part 3. Representation, Mediology and Sociology
6. Agnès Guiderdoni, « Louis Marin's Theories of Representation : between Text and Image, from Visuality to Figurability »
7. Andy Stafford, « Transmission versus Communication : Régis Debray's Mediology »
8. Shirley Jordan, « Value, Meaning, Method : Nathalie Heinich's Sociological Perspectives on Visual Culture »

Part 4. Memory, Body, Image
9. Ian James, « Seeing and Touching : Jean-Luc Nancy and the Ground of the Image »
10. Nigel Saint, « George Didi-Huberman : Images, Critique and Time »
11. Patrick Ffrench, « Jean-Louis Schefer: The Body of the Image »

Part 5. The Digital Era
12. Paul Hegarty, « Jean Baudrillard »
13. Arthur Bradley, « Real Time : Bernard Stiegler and the Politics of Digitalization »

Part 6. Afterwords
14. Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford, « Interview with Bernard Vouilloux »


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