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Visual Culture, 3rd Edition

Richard Howells, Joaquim Negreiros

ISBN: 978-1-509-51881-4 March 2019 Polity 360 Pages


This is a book about how to read visual images: from fine art to photography, film, television and new media. It explores how meaning is communicated by the wide variety of texts that inhabit our increasingly visual world. But, rather than simply providing set meanings to individual images, Visual Culture teaches readers how to interpret visual texts with their own eyes.

While the first part of the book takes readers through differing theoretical approaches to visual analysis, the second part shifts to a medium-based analysis, connected by an underlying theme about the complex relationship between visual culture and reality. Howells and Negreiros draw together seemingly diverse methodologies, while ultimately arguing for a polysemic approach to visual analysis.

The third edition of this popular book contains over fifty illustrations, for the first time in colour. Included in the revised text is a new section on images of power, fear and seduction, a new segment on video games, as well as fresh material on taste and judgement. This timely edition also offers a glossary and suggestions for further reading.

Written in a clear, lively and engaging style, Visual Culture continues to be an ideal introduction for students taking courses in visual culture and communications in a range of disciplines, including media and cultural studies, sociology, and art and design.

List of Illustrations

Preface to the Third Edition


Part I: Theory

1 Iconology

2 Form

3 Art History

4 Ideology

5 Semiotics

6 Hermeneutics

Part II: Media

7 Fine Art

8 Photography

9 Film

10 Television

11 New Media






‘Updated, authoritative, and ranging from traditional to the newest media, <i>Visual Culture</i> remains the premier, portal-opening text.’
John R. Stilgoe, Harvard University

‘Summoning Vasari, Arnold, Baxandall, Berger and a dozen other masters of visual culture, the authors equip the text with idioms, definitions and a code of manners with which to appraise, to judge, to put in order and to relish the vast range of what we all see.’
Fred Inglis, University of Warwick