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Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture Paperback – March 15, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0198742715 ISBN-10: 0198742711 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 385 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (March 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0198742711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0198742715
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 0.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #249,370 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This is a great book and I think it will be very useful to those teaching visual communication (and visual culture) courses. Professor Sandra Moriarty, Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Colorado

This volume is a comprehensive and compelling introduction to the wide range body of critical thought that is now being combined under the banner of visual culture. Nick Mirzoeff, Department of Art, SUNY at Stony Brook

This strikes me as an excellent book. It is one of those rare texts that is extremely clear, introductory but not pedestrian; it flows so easily that is seems like it must have been a pleasure for the authors to write. Professor Amelia Jones, Department of Art History, University of California, Riverside

`Overall, Practices of Looking is a superb text for both beginning and advanced students in visual culture and communications related coursesThe text is both easily understood and engaging to the reader, and presented in a manner that allows for thorough absorbtion of most topics.' Joel Davies, Creighton University

About the Author

Marita Sturken is Associate Professor at the University of Southern California, teaching cultural studies, popular culture, and issues of technology and culture. She previously worked as a critic in independent film and video, and is the author of; Tangled Memories: The Vietnam War, the AIDS Epidemic and the Politics of Remembering, University of California Press (1997) and Thelma and Louise, British Film Institute Modern Classics Series (2000). Lisa Cartwright is Associate Professor at the University of Rochester, and Director of the Susan B. Institute for Gender and Women's Studies. She is the author of Screening the Body: Tracing Medicine's Visual Culture and co-editor of The Visible Woman: Imaging Technologies, Gender and Science

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Customer Reviews

Sturken and Cartwright wrote a very solid book on the power of images in our society and practices of looking.
Elijah VanBenschoten
I found this chapter, as well as the whole book, to be highly interesting and would recommend it to others who are interested in learning more about the subject.
Brian Thomas
When it would finally get to a point, it was unclear on if this was the point the author was intending or just another side remark.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is a well-organized text for teaching introductory undergraduate courses in visual culture, media studies or art history. I used it in a course I taught last semester and the students seemed to get a lot out of it. It provides a broad overview of critical approaches and methodologies for understanding and analyzing art, photography, painting, film and electronic media. One of its strengths is the way it facilitates thinking about images across disciplines and cultural realms from art to popular culture and from the fields of law to science and medicine. The book has many good illustrations that support the concepts discussed.
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20 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Adrian K. Adams on April 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
Visual culture is one of the most difficult subjects that I have taken in four years of college. Sturken and Cartwright attempt to combine the study of art, philosophy, and sociology into a single book. Still, I feel that Practices of Looking is overall well written and does a good job at simplifying the writings and ideas of some of the centuries most noteworthy theorists. Each chapter and subject is clearly laid out and described, while examples and images are effectively and abundantly used. Although I felt that the book is a good introduction for those who have no prior background with the subject, I found there to be several problems.
One problem was that Sturken and Cartwright occasionally either contradicts themselves, or poorly phrases their ideas. For example, on pages 160 and 161, they state that "As distance transmission was facilitated through cables ... long distance broadcasting networks became a reality." However, they later say that "the emergence of cable in the USA reintroduced the narrowcast model." In addition, they state that Black Entertainment Television (received throughout the USA), and Telemundo (more globally received), are two examples of narrowcast television, even though the glossary defines narrowcast media as having "a limited range through which to reach audiences". I would hardly consider a globally received television network to have "limited range."
Another problem that I found was that there are no in text citations (aside from when a source is directly quoted). This would have been very useful in several instances, especially when I was unsure of the validity or accuracy of the information, or simply wished to further examine the subject.
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15 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Mark Montri on September 30, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a class assignment, I closely studied chapter nine of <i>Practices of Looking</i>, and researched several of the listed source materials. This chapter is entitled "The Global Flow of Visual Culture" and deals with the globalization of Western media, primarily in the form of television and the internet. The authors explore such topics as the history of media globalization, its effects on non-western cultures, pros and cons of the internet, and possibilities that new global technologies afford us.
This chapter was well-presented, persuasive, and useful. It offered a cohesive and informative discussion of a broad variety of topics, dealing with each one in satisfactory depth and detail. After researching a few of the listed sources, I found that while some of them seemed to be surplus to the actual chapter content, those that were used were, on the whole, represented accurately and fairly.
I recommend this book to anyone studying visual culture, due to its detailed and informative treatment of this broad and varied topic.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Holly N Czupich on April 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
Visual Culture is a newly explored process of evaluating all things that are visual and how they work in culture. This process can be traced back to John Berger's groundbreaking book in 1972 called Ways of Seeing. Taking Berger's theories further, the book, Practices of Looking: An Introduction to Visual Culture, written by Lisa Cartwright and Marita Sturken is a comprehensive introduction to visual culture and the means of which images are used and understood today. The well-organized text is a broad summary of critical approaches and methodologies for comprehending and investigating are photography, painting, film, and electronic media. Practices of looking covers a wide-range of topics that relate to the contemporary image-savvy culture and in order to detect the validness of the information presented by Cartwright and Sturken, it is necessary to research the sources they have provided and compare the information from the sources to the readings in Practices of Looking. After further investigation, I have concluded that the information that is present in Practice of Looking is a valid source for undergraduate comprehension of visual culture and the sources presented.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Kristy on April 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
Postmodernism and Popular Culture
In Chapter seven of Practices of Looking, titled Postmodernism and Popular Culture, Sturken and Cartwright cover many different aspects of modernism. Modernism was characterized by radical styles that questioned traditions of representational painting. Piet Mondrian and Jackson Pollock are popular examples of artists that took part in the modernist movement. Constructivism is a style of modernism associated with works produced in the spirit of the Soviet revolution. Modernism is also expressed as reflexivity. Reflexivity is the practice of making viewers aware of the "content" of a cultural production.
The chapter mainly deals with postmodernism, hence the title. "Postmodernity is often described as the questioning of the master narratives of society" (p 251). Self-awareness one's own inevitable immersion in everyday and popular culture has led some post-modern artists to produce works, which reflexively examine their own position in relation to the artwork. Cindy Sherman is an example of an artist that inserts herself into a photograph commenting on both sides of the camera. Reflexivity is not only a feature of postmodern art; it has become a central aspect of postmodern style in popular culture and advertising. In the 1990's artists began adopting a more direct approach to the transformation of image and/as identity. The world of images today consists of a huge variety of remakes, copies, and reproductions. Intertextuality and ironic humor began to become a part of advertising campaigns. French philosopher Jean Baudrillard has described the twentieth century as a period which images became more real. We have passed from an era in which reproduction and representation were the most crucial aspects of how an image works.
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