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Visual Culture is an introductory textbook book on visual literacy, exploring how meaning is both made and transmitted in an increasingly visual world. It is designed to introduce students to the analysis of all kinds of visual texts, whether drawings, paintings, photographs, films, advertisements, television programmes or new media forms. The book is illustrated with copious examples that range from medieval painting to contemporary record covers and is written in a lively and engaging style, avoiding unnecessary jargon.
The first part of the book is concerned with differing theoretical approaches to visual analysis, and includes chapters on iconology, form, art history, ideology, semiotics and hermeneutics. The merits and disadvantages of each are discussed, and there is a special focus on one seminal writer for each topic.
The second part shifts from a theoretical to a medium-based approach and comprises chapters on fine art, photography, film, television and new media. These investigate the complex relationship between reality and visual representation.
As a whole, this textbookbrings seemingly diverse approaches together under one roof while ultimately arguing for a polysemic approach to visual analysis. Each chapter concludes with a section of recommendations for further study.
Visual Culture provides an ideal introduction for students taking courses in visual culture and communication in a wide range of disciplines, including media and cultural studies, sociology, art history and design.
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Richard Howells is Reader in Cultural and Creative Industries at King's College, London.
"Howells's text provides an excellent foundation through which to explore the fundamentals of visual analysis... [each chapter provides] an insightful overview of issues pertinent to any student of visual culture...There is little doubt that Visual Culture offers a sound and engaging introduction to the nuances and complexities of visual analysis and will be of great benefit to its readers."
Times Higher Education Supplement
"an essential guide ....an excellent introduction to visual analysis, giving the reader scope for contemplation and consideration."
Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television
"A comprehensive, sophisticated, eminently readable analysis of what everyone sees but almost no one notices."
John Stilgoe, Harvard University
"Generous, wide-ranging, always helpful and clear, Richard Howells has produced a succinct and versatile guide to the different languages that images speak. For the literature student in particular, this is, I believe, the best general introduction available to the key ideas, the key questions and the key texts of visual culture."
John Harvey, University of Cambridge
"From Panofsky to the Beatles, from Puccini to Oasis, from Rothco to Eric Cantona, the range and scope of Visual Culture is impressive. Every reader will learn something new, see old things in a new light and, most importantly, learn to read and understand the visual in an informed and comprehensive new way."
Brent MacGregor, Edinburgh College of Art
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