Positioning himself in the slippery divide between two highly charged critical approaches--deconstruction and cultural studies--J. Hillis Miller explains why the split occurred and offers, for the first time, an eloquent analysis of the goals and methods of cultural studies. Miller's Illustration is an intellectual adventure that transgresses the boundaries of critical theory to reveal the ideological forces at work. The result, art critic Norman Bryson concludes, "is an extraordinary performance." In a positive, constructive way, Miller describes cultural studies as, primarily, a means of contextualizing works of art. Relating the assumptions behind this approach to recent social, political, and technological changes, he shows how cultural studies is itself subject to its context and thus perhaps misguided insofar as it portrays art objects as "mere illustration." In particular, Miller considers new forms of electronic research in the humanities which, with their vast, homogenizing effect on data, can compel a critic to reconfigure information--in fact, to create the context that he or she means simply to identify. To illustrate this phenomenon, Miller investigates one topic of importance for cultural studies: the relation of verbal and visual forms in multimedia works. Drawing examples from Twain, Gorey, Mallarme, James, Ruskin, Heidegger, Dickens, and Turner, he shows how neither word nor image takes priority in such collaborations; nor is either a mere representation of a pre-existing reality. The transformations wrought by cultural artifacts on their contexts, Miller contends, must be identified through detailed and vigilant "rhetorical" readings if the force of a work of art is tobe passed on into the current cultural situation. And for the new form these readings take, the reader-critic must in turn assume responsibility.
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J. Hillis Miller is Distinguished Research Professor of Comparative Literature and English at the University of California, Irvine. He is the author of many books and articles on literature and literary theory, most recently "For Derrida".From Library Journal:
This book is a brief, engaging look at the aims and methods of cultural studies, which include ethnic, gender, and area studies. In Part 1, Miller sets out to demonstrate the ironic conflicts encountered in the cultural studies movement, using as a foil the effect technology has had (and is having) on scholarship. He maintains that the potential effect of emerging computer technology on the humanities will be the gradual interaction/merging of different types of media (words, sound, images, etc.) and the creation of an open-ended interparticipatory scholastic product. Such a development will help cultural studies toward its goal of empowering "marginalized" cultures. In the second part of the book, the author examines the interaction between words and images in illustrated books, titles of artworks, and inscribed paintings. Using the texts of Ruskin, Heidegger, Dickens, and Goethe, and the images of Phiz and Turner, Miller masterfully demonstrates how the verbal and the visual coalesce into illuminating signs, which ironically "bring to light what they also hide." At points Miller's arguments are a bit cryptic, but on the whole this work is splendidly written. Highly recommended.
- David B. Hegeman, King's Coll. Lib., Briarcliff Manor, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Book Description Reaktion Books, London, 1992. Hardback. Book Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Good. 1st Edition. Olive boards with gold lettering to spine, glazed pictorial unclipped dj, minor shelf wear to topside edge of dj, 168pp, no inscriptions. Clean and bright pages with colour images throughout. (Any digital image can be provided upon request.). Bookseller Inventory # 8597