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FR1105 The Visual Image in French Culture and Society

Terms 1- 2

Convenors: Dr Ruth Hemus (Term 1) / Prof Eric Robertson (Term 2)


Formative commentary in Term 1 (0%)
Essay (1,200-1,500 words) (30%)
Moodle Test (10%)
Exam (60%)


The visual image has always played an important role in society, as a source of enjoyment and pleasure, and also as a means of communicating values, celebrating beauty, shaping thought and challenging assumptions. This course aims to develop understanding of the ways the visual image functions and the concepts and techniques needed to analyse it.

The course explores the following areas of study:

Image and Resemblance: the mimetic tradition; verisimilitude and visual representation; descriptive and expressive functions of the visual image; techniques of analysing visual images

Depth, Perspective, Time and Space: the tradition of one-point perspective; theories of representation; composition, distance and scale; angles of vision; the role of photography

Point of View: the role of the spectator; representation and ideology; art and politics; gendered representations

Semiology of the Visual Image: theories of Semiotics; denotation and connotation; approaches to decoding visual and linguistic messages; fixed and moving images.

Key Bibliography:

Cadet, Christiane et al., La Communication par l’image (Paris: Nathan, 2011). [ISBN 2210422906]

CLC Students: Jean, Georges, Signs, Symbols and Ciphers: Decoding the Message (London: Thames & Hudson, New Horizons Series). [ISBN 0500300879] (London: Thames & Hudson, New Horizons Series). [ISBN 0500300879]

Recommended Further Reading

Acton, Mary, Learning to Look at Paintings (London and New York: Routledge, 1997, 2005).

Berger, John, Ways of Seeing (London: Penguin, 1972) [ISBN 0-14-021631-6].

Manghani, Sunil, Image Studies: Theory and Practice. (Oxon: Routledge, 2013).

Fozza, Jean-Claude, Garat, Anne-Marie, Parfait, Françoise, Petite Fabrique de l’image (Paris: Magnard, 2003).

Jean, Georges, Langage de signes, l’écriture et son double (Paris: Gallimard, 1989. Collection Découvertes, number 67.

Joly, Martine, Introduction à l’analyse de l’image   (Paris: Nathan, 1993. Collection Image 128, number 44)



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