Theory for Art History: Adapted from Theory for Religious Studies, by William E. Deal and Timothy K. Beal, 2nd Edition (e-Book) book cover

Theory for Art History

Adapted from Theory for Religious Studies, by William E. Deal and Timothy K. Beal, 2nd Edition

By Jae Emerling


232 pages

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Theory for Art History provides a concise and clear introduction to key contemporary theorists, including their lives, major works, and transformative ideas.  

Written to reveal the vital connections between art history, aesthetics, and contemporary philosophy, this expanded second edition presents new ways for rethinking the methodologies and theories of art and art history. The book comprises a complete revision of each theorist; updated and trustworthy bibliographies on each; an informative introduction about the reception of critical theory within art history; and a beautifully written, original essay on the state of art history and theory that serves as an afterword.  

From Marx to Deleuze, from Arendt to Rancière, Theory for Art History is designed for use by undergraduate students in courses on the theory and methodology of art history, graduate students seeking an introduction to critical theory that will prepare them to engage the primary sources, and advanced scholars in art history and visual culture studies who are themselves interested in how these perspectives inflect art historical practice.    

Adapted from Theory for Religious Studies by William E. Deal and Timothy K. Beal.


"Located outside the often spectral interiors of historicity, Emerling’s Theory for Art History demands our attention with an exquisite rendering of art and image making. His is as much a spatial reckoning with the labor, manifestation, and reception of art history as it is a deliberation on how we construct the temporal. With each chapter, we are fortunate to lose ourselves among these pages as they extend meaning, promise epistemic entanglements, and signify our own disciplinary un-becoming."

Sean Anderson, The Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA

"A lucid and profoundly hopeful inquiry into the possibilities for art history and critical theory by one of the most brilliant of the emerging generation of art historians."

Donald Preziosi, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION : Becoming Theoretical



1. Sigmund FREUD

2. Karl MARX

3. Friedrich NIETZSCHE

4. Ferdinand de SAUSSURE


5. Theodor W. ADORNO

6. Giorgio AGAMBEN

7. Hannah ARENDT


9. Alain BADIOU

10. Roland BARTHES

11. Georges BATAILLE


13. Walter BENJAMIN

14. Pierre BOURDIEU

15. Judith BUTLER

16. Gilles DELEUZE and Félix GUATTARI

17. Jacques DERRIDA

18. Michel FOUCAULT

19. Martin HEIDEGGER


21. Julia KRISTEVA

22. Jacques LACAN

23. Emmanuel LEVINAS

24. Jean-François LYOTARD


26. Jacques RANCIÈRE

27. Edward W. SAID

28. Gayatri Chakravorty SPIVAK


AFTERWORD: An Art History of Events: Images, Temporality, Transmissibility

About the Author

Jae Emerling is a Professor of Art History in the College of Arts + Architecture at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He is also the author of Photography: History and Theory, published by Routledge.

About the Series


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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies