The nature of the visual has, over the past decade, moved to the center of debates in the humanities. No longer simply the study of timeless masterpieces, art history as a discipline is now addressing some of the most basic questions about cultural production, questions such as how images function and how expectations and social factors mediate what we see. The new scope of art history has required a major expansion and reassessment of methods and terminology.
Edited by Robert Nelson and Richard Shiff, Critical Terms for Art History is both an exposition and a demonstration of contested terms from the current art historical vocabulary. In individual essays, scholars examine the history and use of these terms by grounding their discussions in single works of art, reading each work through current debates and methods. This instructive combination of theory and practice allows readers to examine the terms as they are seeing them employed. In its wide representation of contemporary discourse, Critical Terms for Art History is a comprehensive effort to map historical and theoretical debates over the visual environment.
Like its companion, Critical Terms for Literary Study, this book will prove an invaluable resource both for those beginning to learn about the visual theory and for scholars and historians.