Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition

Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition

by Mieke Bal


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Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition by Mieke Bal

Reading Rembrandt: Beyond the Word-Image Opposition explores the potential for an interdisciplinary methodology between visual art and literature. In a series of close analyses of works by “Rembrandt” – works as we see them today, through all the ways of seeing and commenting that precede – and texts related to those works, Mieke Bal questions the traditional boundaries between literary and visual analysis. Bal also studies Rembrandt’s complex handling of gender and the representation of women in Rembrandt’s painting. The methods used in this study come from both in- and outside the history of art. They demonstrate the author’s sensitivity to the visual aspects of Rembrandt’s work as meaningful. The works by Rembrandt gain in depth and interest, but an original perspective of the role of visuality in our culture also emerges, which ultimately has consequences for our views of gender, the artists, and the act of reading.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9789053568583
Publisher: Amsterdam University Press
Publication date: 09/05/2006
Series: Amsterdam Academic Archive
Pages: 498
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Mieke Bal is a Professor at the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences and is based at the University of Amsterdam.

Table of Contents

List of Illustration

Balancing Vision and Narrative
The Subject of This Study
Why “Rembrandt”?
Why Interpretation?
The Content of This Study
The Terms of Analysis

1. Beyond the World-Image Opposition
State of the Art
Words in Images: Beyond Illustration
Words in Images: From Art Criticism to Episteme
Words as Images: Theatricality and Visual Poetics
From Visual Poetics to Comparative Arts

2. Visual Rhetoric: The Semiotics of Rape
The Wandering Womb
The Page of Lucretia
Lucretia’s Last Moment
Contagious Logorrhea
Semiotic Appropriation
Real Rape: The Importance of Telling Stories

3. Visual Storytelling: Fathers and Sons and the Problem of Myth
The Problem of Myth
Myth and Transference
“Rembrandt”’s Myth: Narrative Devices
Myth and Psychoanalytic Discourse
Freud’s Story of the Sons
Mann’s Myth Versus Man’s Myth
“Rembrandt”’s Men: Jumping to Conclusions

4. Between Focalization and Voyeurism: The Representation Vision
Voyeurism, the Glance, and the Gaze
“A Cluster of Signs for His Neighbour’s False Suppositions”
Exhibiting Desire
“They Were Hidden and Spying”
“The Focalizer: The Figuration of the Viewer
Susanna and the Viewer
Through the Looking Glass

5. Recognition: Reading Icons, Seeing Stories 
The Telltale Dog, or One Woman Too Many
Hagar’s Harrow
The Continuing Story: Hagar Today
The Return of Hagar
Compositional Iconography
Recognition and Narrative: Signs for the Story
Narrative Against Recognition: Sign for the Story

6. Textuality and Realism
Signs for Textuality
Textuality and/as Supplement
The Letter’s Speculation
Signs for the Real
Textuality and Realism
Visual Signs and Verbal Images: The Instance of the Letter
Reading Distortion

7. Self-Reflection as a Model of Reading
The Still Life of Mirroring: Self-Portraits
Self-Reflection and Its Discontents
The Looking Glass Revisited
Self-Reflection and Realism
The Construction of the Mirror
On Mirror Talk
Vision on the Right Side of Sight
The Challenge of Self-Reflection
Signs for Work

8. Blindness or Insight? Psychoanalysis and Visual Art
Collision and Collusion of Psychanalysis and Visual Art
A Taste for Violence
Narcissism and Its Discontents
Narcissism and Self-Reflection
Ecce Ego: Superego, Superman
Medusa’s Spell

9. Blindness as Insight: The Powers of Horror
Samson and Sublimation
Samson as Woman
The Story of Insight
Melancholy, Beauty, and the Narrative of Loss
Masculinity Gendered Feminine: The Polish Rider
The Fragility of Mastery

10. Dead Flesh, or the Smell of Painting
Language and a Murderous Vision of Death
Language and the Semiotic of Mis-seeing
Staging Death: The Word Become Flesh
Stage Death: Life Become Work
Death as Still Life
Death as Stage: Paint Become Flesh
The Stage of Death: Dis-representation and Mastery

Index of Names and Titles
Index of Subjects

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