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Pictures of the Body: Pain and Metamorphosis 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0804730235
ISBN-10: 0804730237
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Few art historians have attempted to talk about scientific images, and fewer still have attended classes on quantum mechanics as preparation. Elkins's book is a fresh, original attempt to reckon with many kinds of images from the late twentieth century, ranging from modern art to astrophysics and beyond. Elkins skillfully explores how all of these images point, in their own ways, to the limits of representation. This engaging and wide-ranging study is quite an accomplishment; we need more books like this one." —David Kaiser, Massachusetts Institute of Technology


“Specialists and general readers alike should welcome this stimulating attempt to foster a dialogue between disciplines. Informed and informative, it is comparative without being reductive, and it continues the author’s exploration of the strange threshold between words and pictures. Elkins looks at and writes about the limits of visual representation and of language about images. His curiosity is infectious.”
—Martin Donougho, University of South Carolina

From the Inside Flap

In a wide-ranging argument moving from Sumerian demons to Lucian Freud, from Syriac prayer books to John Carpenter’s film The Thing, this book explores the ways the body has been represented through time. A response to the vertiginous increase in writings on bodily representations, it attempts to form a single coherent account of the possible forms of representation of the body.
The conceptual binding is provided by the idea of pain, understood as the set of images that elicit visceral, nonverbal, or uncognized responses, and the realm of metamorphosis, meaning the images that provoke intellection and, in particular, thoughts of change and concepts of alterity or representation. The author shows how pain and metamorphosis have animated and ordered the vast range of images that have been produced in Western representation, and he argues that pain and metamorphosis continue to be generative concepts even amid the welter of today’s new forms.
This work brings together concerns, images, and concepts from a wide range of perspectives: art history and criticism, the history and philosophy of medicine, the history of race, phenomenological and post-phenomenological thought, studies of feminism and pornography, and the new interest in visual studies. Yet it is less a philosopher’s look at history or a historian’s foray into philosophy than a practical and critical look at the current constellation of art practices. Above all, it is intended to be of immediate use in the conceptualization and production of visual art and its history.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Stanford University Press; 1 edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804730237
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804730235
  • Product Dimensions: 10.7 x 7.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,218,045 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Note: information on reaching me, on unpublished texts, etc., follows this bio.

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James Elkins grew up in Ithaca, New York, separated from Cornell University by a quarter-mile of woods once owned by the naturalist Laurence Palmer.

He stayed on in Ithaca long enough to get the BA degree (in English and Art History), with summer hitchhiking trips to Alaska, Mexico, Guatemala, the Caribbean, and Columbia. For the last twenty-five years he has lived in Chicago; he got a graduate degree in painting, and then switched to Art History, got another graduate degree, and went on to do the PhD in Art History, which he finished in 1989. (All from the University of Chicago.) Since then he has been teaching at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He is currently E.C. Chadbourne Chair in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.

His writing focuses on the history and theory of images in art, science, and nature. Some of his books are exclusively on fine art (What Painting Is, Why Are Our Pictures Puzzles?). Others include scientific and non-art images, writing systems, and archaeology (The Domain of Images, On Pictures and the Words That Fail Them), and some are about natural history (How to Use Your Eyes).

Current projects include a series called the Stone Summer Theory Institutes, a book called The Project of Painting: 1900-2000, a series called Theories of Modernism and Postmodernism in the Visual Art, and a book written against Camera Lucida.

He married Margaret MacNamidhe in 1994 on Inishmore, one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland. Margaret is also an art historian, with a specialty in Delacroix. Jim's interests include microscopy (with a Zeiss Nomarski differential interference microscope and Anoptral phase contrast), optics (he owns an ophthalmologist's slit-lamp microscope), stereo photography (with a Realist camera), playing piano, and (whenever possible) winter ocean diving.

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Contact information:


Hi, most everything about me, including unpublished texts, is here:

www.jameselkins.com

That site also has a contact form:

http://www.jameselkins.com/#page6

And that website also has my travel calendar, in case you live outside the US:

http://www.jameselkins.com/#page4

(Amazon won't let people link their Google calendars to their profile page: don't know why.)

I'm also very active on Facebook:

http://www.facebook.com/jamesprestonelkins

And I am active on Library Thing (posting reviews of contemporary fiction):

http://www.librarything.com/home/JimElkins

PS, I also have an Amazon "aStore," a special site for buying books:

http://astore.amazon.com/jameselkins

And last, I also have an Amazon Listmania! list:

http://www.amazon.com/lm/2ULLGW8L1NVW7

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By JAL on April 10, 2005
Format: Paperback
I think you either love James Elkins or he leaves you cold. I've enjoyed everything I've read by him. Though this book is not for everyone, it's a strange & wonderful look at the physicality of meaning, the body as the translator.
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