A General Theory of Visual Culture by Whitney DavisA General Theory of Visual Culture by Whitney Davis

A General Theory of Visual Culture

byWhitney Davis

Paperback | November 7, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info


Earn 285 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store


In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Not available in stores


What is cultural about vision--or visual about culture? In this ambitious book, Whitney Davis provides new answers to these difficult and important questions by presenting an original framework for understanding visual culture. Grounded in the theoretical traditions of art history,A General Theory of Visual Cultureargues that, in a fully consolidated visual culture, artifacts and pictures have been made to be seen in a certain way; what Davis calls "visuality" is the visual perspective from which certain culturally constituted aspects of artifacts and pictures are visible to informed viewers. In this book, Davis provides a systematic analysis of visuality and describes how it comes into being as a historical form of vision.

Expansive in scope,A General Theory of Visual Culturedraws on art history, aesthetics, the psychology of perception, the philosophy of reference, and vision science, as well as visual-cultural studies in history, sociology, and anthropology. It provides penetrating new definitions of form, style, and iconography, and draws important and sometimes surprising conclusions (for example, that vision does not always attain to visual culture, and that visual culture is not always wholly visible). The book uses examples from a variety of cultural traditions, from prehistory to the twentieth century, to support a theory designed to apply to all human traditions of making artifacts and pictures--that is, to visual culture as a worldwide phenomenon.

Whitney Davisis the George C. and Helen N. Pardee Professor of History of Art at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of many books, most recentlyReplications: Archaeology, Art History, PsychoanalysisandQueer Beauty: Sexuality and Aesthetics from Winckelmann to Freud and Beyond.
Title:A General Theory of Visual CultureFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 10 × 7 × 0.68 inPublished:November 7, 2017Publisher:Princeton University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0691178070

ISBN - 13:9780691178073

Look for similar items by category:


Table of Contents

llustrations xi

Preface xv

Part One The Successions of Visual Culture

Chapter 1: Vision Has an Art History 3

Chapter 2: Vision and the Successions to Visual Culture 11

Part Two What Is Cultural about Vision?

Chapter 3: What Is Formalism? 45

Chapter 4: The Stylistic Succession 75

Chapter 5: The Close Reading of Artifacts 120

Chapter 6: Successions of Pictoriality 150

Chapter 7: The Iconographic Succession 187

Chapter 8: Visuality and Pictoriality 230

Part Three: What Is Visual about Culture?

Chapter 9: How Visual Culture Becomes Visible 277

Chapter 10: Visuality and the Cultural Succession 322

Notes 341

Index 375

Editorial Reviews

"[A] magnificent book. This is an ambitious and fascinating work, one that offers a novel perspective on the intertwined projects of art history and visual culture. The sheer scope of the book and the detailed, methodical argument are simply too broad and too detailed to adequately summarize here."--Brian Kane, Art Bulletin