Art and “Thick Description,” Part Two

ART AND MATERIAL CULTURE CLIFFORD GEERTZ and ART HISTORY Gathered together at the Warburg Library and impacted by the neo-Kantian revival in the beginning of the Twentieth Century, Aby Warburg and Ernst Cassirer created diachronic analyses of cultural symbols from the...

Art and “Thick Description,” Part One

ART AND MATERIAL CULTURE CLIFFORD GEERTZ and PHILOSOPHY  “Art, Clifford Geertz once remarked, “is notoriously hard to talk about.”  However, Clifford Geertz provided art history with a way to talk about art through material culture. A term familiar to anthropology,...

Postmodernism and the Meaning of Art

RE-DEFINING  ART AS TEXT in the POSTMODERN ERA Postmodernism promises endless creative play in contrast to Modernism, which, according to Roland Barthes (1916-1980), was a fraudulent attempt to find the universal in every solution. For Barthes, Structuralism, or the...

Postmodernism and Heteroglossia, Part Two

POSTMODERNISM AND HETEROGLOSSIA PART TWO Hybridity and Pluralism In her 1966 essay, “Word, Dialogue and Novel,” Julia Kristeva (1941-) privileged the term “Text,” insisting that the subject is composed of discourses, created by a signifying system.  The...

Postmodernism and Heteroglossia, Part One

THEORIES OF THE POSTMODERN PART ONE Texts and Textuality The phenomenon that would be known by the 1980s as Postmodern theory or “theory” consisted of servings of a French Potée from the 1950s and 1960s, full of different ingredients, a stew of linguistic...

Postmodernism and the Loss of Mastery

THEORIES OF POSTMODERNISM Feminism, Post-Colonialism, and the Loss of Mastery Over the World Picture In 1986 Postmodern painter Mark Tansey  (1949-) produced a large orangish monochrome painting of a long white fallen column. Broken in three places and lying next to a...

Postmodernism and Intertextuality

THEORIES OF THE POSTMODERN INTERTEXTUALITY Bakhtin and Kristeva Working within the confines of the Soviet Union, a place where words, thoughts and deeds were monitored, the literary theorist Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975) examined, in an intellectually safe...

Michel Foucault: Discipline and Punish

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1986) PART FIVE Discipline and Punish. The Birth of the Prison (1975) The opening pages of Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault were one of the best representations of his long term project of making history or the past...

Michel Foucault: “What is an Author?”

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART FOUR What is an Author? (1969) To read Michel Foucault, is to feel the grounds of one’s belief systems shift underneath one’s feet. For Foucault, as for Roland Barthes (1916-1980), the notion of the author must come into...

Michel Foucault: “This is not a Pipe”

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART THREE This is not a Pipe (1968)  Michel Foucault’s essay, This is not a Pipe, his contemplation on a famous painting by René Magritte, La trahison des images (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) (1929) can be read as a...

Michel Foucault and Archaeology

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART  TWO The Archaeology of Knowledge (1969)  Like many French intellectuals, Michel Foucault witnessed the now-legendary days of May, 1968 in which the students and later the proletariat or working class rose up against the forces...

Michel Foucault: The Order of Things

MICHEL FOUCAULT (1926 – 1984) PART ONE The Order of Things. The Archaeology of the Human Sciences  (1966) For English speaking readers lacking the intellectual and cultural background to understand the transformation of French philosophy after the Second World...

Roland Barthes: Camera Lucida

ROLAND BARTHES (1915-1980)  PART SIX Camera Lucida (1980)  When he wrote Camera Lucida, Roland Barthes had little time left to him. It is one of the ironies of his ironic life that his last book–an extended act of mourning–would be his last before his...

Roland Barthes: “The Pleasure of the Text”

ROLAND BARTHES (1915-1980)  PART FIVE The Pleasure of the Text (1973) In his 1997 history of Structuralism, History of Structuralism: Volume One: The Rising Sign, 1945-1966, François Dosse described Roland Barthes in a number of ways–“the Mother Figure of...

Roland Barthes: “The Death of the Author”

ROLAND BARTHES (1915-1980)  PART FOUR “The Death of the Author” (1968) “The Death of the Author,” written in 1967 and published in 1968, is a stance against the enclosure of Structuralism and the authority of formalism. While the essay by Roland...

Roland Barthes: Structuralism

ROLAND BARTHES PART THREE  Towards Structuralism The goal of all structuralist activity, whether reflexive or poetic, is to reconstruct an object so as to manifest the rules of its functioning. In 1980, Edith Kurzweil published a still-indespensible book, The Age of...

Roland Barthes: Mythologies

ROLAND BARTHES (1915-1980) PART TWO Mythologies (1957) In the fifties, Roland Barthes was a semiologist, following Ferdinand de Saussure (1857-1913) and Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009), in using the sign, the signifier and the signified to study the social condition....

Roland Barthes: Writing Degree Zero

ROLAND BARTHES (1914 – 1980)  PART ONE Writing Degree Zero (1953) One of the most interesting facts of the life of Roland Barthes was that he was struck by a laundry van and, after lingering for a month, died of his injuries. “The Painter of Modern...
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If you have found this material useful, please give credit to Dr. Jeanne S. M. Willette and Art History Unstuffed.
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