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. ;
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All in all, the volume overall is a magnificent achievement of conceptual organization, careful and coordinated management of a large team of expert contributors, and high editorial standards in general. A work highly-recommended for all specialist readers interested in French thought on the visual.
, Hugh Dauncey, Newcastle University, Contemporary French Civilization, 11 May 2015 -
Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford both lecture in French Studies at the University of Leeds; Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford both lecture in French Studies at the University of Leeds