The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Companion to Photography Theory

1st Edition

Edited by Mark Durden, Jane Tormey


472 pages

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Hardback: 9781138845770
pub: 2019-11-01
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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



1 Feeling in Photography, the Affective Turn and the History of Emotions

Thy Phu, Elspeth H. Brown, 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

David Campany and Jeff Wall

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 & 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

Justin Carville and Ariella Azoulay

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's

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

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

About the Editors

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 andthe book series RadicalAesthetics-RadicalArt.

About the Series

Routledge Art History and Visual Studies Companions

Routledge Art History and Visual Studies Companions offer thorough, high-quality surveys and assessments of the major topics in the fields of art history and visual studies. All entries in each companion are specially commissioned and written by leading scholars in the field. Clear, accessible, and cutting-edge, these companions are the ideal resource for advanced undergraduates, postgraduate students, and researchers alike.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies