The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory  book cover
1st Edition

The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory

ISBN 9781138845770
Published November 25, 2019 by Routledge
474 Pages

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USD $270.00

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Book Description

With newly commissioned essays by some of the leading writers on photography today, this companion tackles some of the most pressing questions about photography theory’s direction, relevance, and purpose.

This book shows how digital technologies and global dissemination have radically advanced the pluralism of photographic meaning and fundamentally transformed photography theory. Having assimilated the histories of semiotic analysis and post-structural theory, critiques of representation continue to move away from the notion of original and copy and towards materiality, process, and the interdisciplinary. The implications of what it means to ‘see’ an image is now understood to encompass, not only the optical, but the conceptual, ethical, and haptic experience of encountering an image. The 'fractal' is now used to theorize the new condition of photography as an algorithmic medium and leads us to reposition our relationship to photographs and lend nuances to what essentially underlies any photography theory — that is, the relationship of the image to the real world and how we conceive what that means.

Diverse in its scope and themes, The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory is an indispensable collection of essays and interviews for students, researchers, and teachers. The volume also features extensive images, including beautiful colour plates of key photographs.

Table of Contents

List of figures

List of plates

List of contributors


Mark Durden and Jane Tormey


1. Feeling in photography, the affective turn, and the history of emotions

Thy Phu, Elspeth H. Brown, and Andrea Noble

2. Jacques Rancière: aesthetics and photography

David Bate

3. Ambiguity, accident, audience: Minor White’s photographic theory

Todd Cronan

4. Testing humanism: the transactions of contemporary documentary photography

Mark Durden

5. Jeff Wall speaks with David Campany

Jeff Wall and David Campany

6. Deleuze and the simulacrum: simulation and semblance in Public Order

Sandra Plummer

7. Five versions of the photographic act: archival logic in the work of Andrea Robbins and Max Becher

Shep Steiner

8. Jean Baudrillard’s photography—a vision of his own strange world

Gerry Coulter

9. Visual episodic memory and the neurophenomenology of digital photography

Jill Bennett


10. Seeing the public image anew: photography exhibitions and civic spectatorship

 Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites

11. Still images on the move: theoretical challenges and future possibilities

Marta Zarzycka

12. Interview with Ariella Azoulay

Ariella Azoulay and Justin Carville

13. Human rights practice and visual violations

Ruthie Ginsburg

14. Love the bomb: picturing nuclear explosion

Paula Rabinowitz

15. Twice captured: the work of atrocity photography

Molly Rogers

16. Presenting the unrepresentable: confrontation and circumvention

Jane Tormey

17. The eco-anarchist potential of environmental photography: Richard Misrach and Kate Orff’s Petrochemical America

Conohar Scott

18. Counter-forensics and photography

Thomas Keenan


19. Derrida and photography theory

Malcolm Barnard

20. Image, affect, and autobiography: Roland Barthes’ photographic theory in light of his posthumous publications

Kathrin Yacavone

21. Ideation and photography: a critique of François Laruelle’s concept of abstraction

John Roberts

22. Fractal photography and the politics of invisibility

Daniel Rubinstein

23. Photographic apparatus in the era of tagshot culture

Mika Elo

24. Artistic representation and politics: an exchange between Victor Burgin and Hilde Van Gelder

Victor Burgin and Hilde Van Gelder

25. Decentering the photographer: authorship and digital photography

Daniel Palmer

26. Out of language: photographing as translating

Nancy Ann Roth

27. Habitual photography: time, rhythm, and temporalization in contemporary personal photography

Martin Hand and Ashley Scarlett


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Mark Durden is an artist, writer and academic. He has written extensively on contemporary art and photography. Recent books include Fifty Key Writers on Photography (2012) and Photography Today (2014). With Ian Brown and David Campbell, Durden regularly exhibits as part of the artist group Common Culture. With Campbell he also recently co-curated a number of substantial exhibitions on art and comedy: Double Act (Bluecoat, Liverpool and the MAC, Belfast in 2016) and The Laughable Enigma of Ordinary Life (Arquipélago, centro de artes contemporâneas, São Miguel in 2017). Durden is currently Professor of Photography and Director of the European Centre for Documentary Research at the University of South Wales, UK.

Jane Tormey is an Honorary Fellow of Loughborough University. Her writing focuses on the exchange of ideas between art practice and other disciplines, the conflict between aesthetics and political content, and the ways in which aesthetic traditions can be disturbed by and through photographic/filmic practices. Published work includes: "The Ghost in the Image" in Boelderl, Leisch-Kiesl (eds.) Die Zukunft gehört den Phantomen ([transcript], 2018); Photographic Realism: Late Twentieth-Century Aesthetics (2013) and Cities and Photography (2012). She is co-editor of Art, Politics and the Pamphleteer (forthcoming 2020) and the book series Radical Aesthetics-Radical Art.