Modern French Visual Theory

A critical reader

Edited by Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford

Modern French Visual Theory


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8130-9
  • Pages: 288
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £16.99
  • Published Date: January 2013
  • BIC Category: Cultural Studies, Theory of art, The arts: general issues, ART / Criticism & Theory, The arts / Theory of art


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.


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


Introduction - Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford
Part 1. Precursors: Phenomenology and Semiotics
1. 'Merleau-Ponty: The Madness of Vision' (Nathalie Aubert)
2. 'Christian Metz: Constructing Meaning in Film' (Martine Joly)
Part 2. New Art Histories and Genealogies
3. 'Daniel Arasse's Joyful Visual Science: In the Intimacy of History and Art' (Ralph Dekoninck)
4. 'Dream Perspectives: Hubert Damisch, Psychoanalysis, and Early Modern Art History' (David Packwood)
5. 'Christine Buci-Glucksmann: the Archaeology of Shadows or the Aesthetics of Image-Flux' (François-Xavier Gleyzon)
Part 3. Representation, Mediology and Sociology
6. 'Louis Marin's Theories of Representation: between Text and Image, from Visuality to Figurability' (Agnès Guiderdoni)
7. 'Transmission versus Communication: Régis Debray's Mediology' (Andy Stafford)
8. 'Value, Meaning, Method: Nathalie Heinich's Sociological Perspectives on Visual Culture' (Shirley Jordan)
Part 4. Memory, Body, Image
9. 'Seeing and Touching: Jean-Luc Nancy and the Ground of the Image' (Ian James)
10. 'Georges Didi-Huberman: Images, Critique and Time'
(Nigel Saint)
11. 'Jean-Louis Schefer: The Body of the Image' (Patrick ffrench)
Part 5. The Digital Era
12. 'Jean Baudrillard' (Paul Hegarty)
13. 'Real Time: Bernard Stiegler and the Politics of Digitalization (Arthur Bradley)
Part 6. Afterword
14. Interview with Bernard Vouilloux (Saint and Stafford)


Nigel Saint and Andy Stafford both teach French Studies in the University of Leeds

Modern French Visual Theory

Edited by Nigel Saint, Andy Stafford

Paperback £16.99 / $27.95

Hardcover £80.00 / $120.00

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