References will be added to the Bibliography to support this glossary.

This page is a work in progress that is tackling the problem of compiling a glossary relevant to Deconstructing Installation Art and the interdisciplinary frameworks informing the text (e.g. art theory, art history, cultural studies, psychology, sociology, philosophy, science). As well as compiling entries specific to this book, it also makes use of existing glossaries : ENG 260; POP!: A Critical Analysis of Pop Culture Matters; LINES of communication: media and communication studies, Glossary (Australian Broadcating Corporation); ODSS Online Dictionary of the Social Sciences; and Wikpidedia (Wikip). University of Toronto English Library Glossary of Literary Theory Index of Primary Entries: Greig E. Henderson and Christopher Brown, University of Toronto
Indexing by Dennis Jerz and Christopher Douglas (Henderson & Brown 1997); Channel 4 UK, The Novel Glossary TNG; A Glossary of Freudian Terms, Craig Chalqist, MS, PhD TERRA SEE ALSO Artlex

Web citations, where appropriate, are provided at the end of the entry.




Absurd, absurdism: a term developed in literary crticism that is used in Deconstructing Installation Art as a thematic category for understanding aspects of contemporary art.ADDITIONAL DEFINITION: A philosophical attitude pervading much of modern drama and fiction, which underlines the isolation and alienation that human beings experience, having been thrown into what absurdists see as a godless universe devoid of any religious, spiritual, or metaphysical meaning. Conspicuous in its lack of logic, consistency, coherence, intelligibility, and realism, the literature of the absurd depicts the anguish, forlornness, and despair inherent in the human condition. Counter to the rationalist assumptions of traditional humanism, absurdism denies the existence of universal truth or value. (Henderson & Brown 1997)
strictly speaking aesthetics refers to a branch of philosophy Wikip, 'Art theory' is much broader and interdisciplinary, being informed by not only by philosophy but also the social sciences, science, and cultural studies.
Administered world: the Frankfurt School thinker Theodor Adorno 'posited the onset of an 'administered world' in which human activity would be smothered in an ever-expanding network of management and control'. Springer
Adorno, Theodor: Next to Walter Benjamin Adorno is one of the most important Marxist cultural theorists with regard to contemporary art theory. Along with Benjamin, Max Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse, Adorno is the major representative of the 'Critical Thought' developed by the members of the Institute of Social Research, or 'Frankfurt School'. At university in Frankfurt, Adorno studied philosophy, sociology, psychology and music. Then, in 1925, he studied musical composition with Alban Berg in Vienna and gained a deep appreciation of the atonality of the 'new music' being developed by Arnold Schoenberg. As well as writing numerous musical compositions, Adorno wrote copiously on music. In this and in other areas of aesthetics, Adorno remained a commited advocate of the radical, critical impulses within modernism. ... Adorno's most important philosophical debt is to Hegel. Like Hegel's, Adorno's own thinking constantly circles around the dialectical tension between individual and society, between the particular and the universal. On the other hand, Adorno - like Marx - regards Hegel's fundamental claim (to have effected the reconciliation of these dialectical poles) as condemning Hegel to illusory form of idealism. Adorno regards all fantasies of 'organic wholeness', including the Hegelian, as in some ways regressive. The 'negative dialectics' proposed by Adorno aims at constantly undermining and defeating any final synthesis. When the Institute for Social Research was forced into exile from Nazi Germany, Adorno went through a profound engagement with mass culture in its American, commercial forms. The result was an analysis of the culture and social organisation of late capitalism which stressed its propensity to become an integrated, closed, or 'total', system. Spencer
Alienation (Marxist Criticism/Psychoanalytic Criticism/Ethnic Studies): in Marxist theory, the separation and estrangement of a worker from his work. In psychoanalytic theory, the separation and estrangement of an individual from the social and material world. In ethnic studies, ‘natal alienation’ refers to a necessary component of slavery—removing people from homelands, relatives, inherited culture, etc.ENG 260
Allegory a metaphorical narrative that communicates a message in an indirect fashion, a species of nonlinear narrative.
Allusion (Latin ad, ‘to/towards’ and ludo, ‘to play’): a reference to a a thing, person, event, passage in another text (not necessarily a written text). This form of intertextuality is either direct (e.g., a cited quotation) or indirect (the writer believes the audience will ‘get’ the allusion because of shared cultural knowledge).
Anarchic system: in scientific terms a system that has no central control, power is distributed. Michel Foucault’s theory of power possesses an anarchic character.
Aporia (Deconstruction): the moment when a text’s logic undoes itself (based on rhetorical term for a moment of hesitation on the part of the speaker).
Appropriation: an artistic strategy that formed the core of the postmodern appropriation movement in the late 1970s and 1980s. Artists would appropriate already existing imagery from mass media, or art in order to deconstruct dominant discourses.
Art system (a term specific to this book, derived from Bürger [1984]):  the institutions of art including the commercial gallery system, art museums, national art prizes, international exhibitions, the profession of curating, art funding, art publishing, newspaper criticism, etc. The artist should not be considered separate from the art system, she/he is part of that system. 
Art system: a term used in Deconstructing Installation Art to refer to a complex of institutions including: networks of artists (cliques), commerical galleries, contemporary art museums, art prizes, curators, art writers, art collectors, art foundations, funding bodies, etc.
Art theory: an interdisciplinary approach to understanding art informed by cultural studies, philosophy, social sciences, art history and science.
Augé, Marc: (b. 1935) a prominent French anthropologist. In Non-Places: Introduction to an Anthropology of Supermodernity (1995), Augé coined the phrase "non-place" to refer to places of transience that do not hold enough significance to be regarded as "places." Examples of a non-place would be a motorway, a hotel room, and airport or a supermarket. Wikipedia


Barthes, Roland a cultural theorist whose work has been highly influential on contemporary art theory, most notably via his concepts of the ''death of the author' and the 'writerly' text.
Baudrillard, Jean: a cultural theorist writing in a hybrid style between literature and sociology who introduced useful terms into art theory such as hyperreality, simulation and simulacrum.
Binary oppositions (semiotics.cultural studies)  refers to the way in which human beings commonly divide their perception of the world into simplistic ethical judgements such as good/evil, us/them. Barthes used the term  ‘violent hierarchy’ POP! to describe this phenomenon. Binary opposition is a very useful thinking tool as long as it is remembered that this is all it is. As soon as one begins to take binary oppositions as God-given (as millions do) then there can be problems.
Body, the Body: poststructuralist feminist theory in the 1980s and 1990s focused attention on the Cartesian split between body and mind and foregrounded the valorising of mind over body as a suitable subject for theoretical and creative interrogation. For a bibliography on the topic click here.
Border identity see mestiza/mestizo consciousness
Bourgeoisie (Marxist Criticism): the mercantile middle class; according to Marx, the group opposed to the proletariat. ENG 260 The class of artists in many ways epitomise bourgeois values, being afforded a privileged position in society released from the constraints of wage slavery.
Bricolage: process by which subcultures appropriate meanings for products and recombine them in new ways for their own purposes, to establish meanings not necessarily intended by the producers; see Hebdige (1979). Alternative definition: (Levi-Strauss/Structuralism): meaning ‘a composite construction made out of bits and pieces’ (similar to a collage), this term is used to describe how texts are made out of bits and pieces of culture, history, language, and other texts (see also intertextuality). POP!
Butler, Judith: a prominent American post-structuralist philosopher who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics. She is the Maxine Elliot professor in the Departments of Rhetoric and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley. Wikipedia


Canon: the list of artists fortunate enought to be afforded status by the organising system of art institutions. In the context of contemporary art this list of names is generated by a complex of forces including commercial galleries, major art exhibitions and prizes, art publishing, high profile collecting (e.g. Charles Saatchi) and contemporary art museums. YBA (Young British Artists) are an instance of a canon, in this case formed largely by the patronage of Charles Saatchi. In the context of the history of art the canon is the list of artists deemed ‘great' by the art academy which includes art museums, prominent curators, critics and art historians. The canon is institutionally constructed and the political dimension of such construction is evident in the fact that for centuries art history systematically ignored women artists. There is also a very strong Euro-American bias to the canon, an effect evident in the text Deconstructing Installation Art.
Carnivalesque: cf. absurdism and the grotesque, according to Mikhail Bakhtin carnival occurs when there is no division between performer and spectator; what is created when carnival themes/traditions mock, reverse, parody, or otherwise invert the “standard” social order.POP!
Capitalism: the economic system that accompanied the Industrial Revolution in the late eighteenth and nineteenth century Europe and which became globalised in the second half of the twentieth century. Marxism is a critical theory of capitalism, and a typical Marxist definition of capitalism is as follows: 'The socio-economic system where social relations are based on commodities for exchange, in particular private ownership of the means of production and on the exploitation of wage labour ' Another definition: An economic system in which capital (the goods or wealth used to produce other goods for profit) is privately owned and profit is reinvested so as to accumulate capital. The dynamics of the economic exchange in capitalism are unique. In a barter system of economic activity a producer may grow a pound of potatoes and barter them for an equivalent amount of honey produced by someone else. In this exchange the goods bartered are of roughly equal value. In capitalism, however, a person uses capital to produce goods and then sells those goods for cash. The amount of cash received is greater than the value of the good produced such that a profit is created allowing for reinvestment in the capital stock and to support the owner and producers. ODSS
Capital: An accumulation of goods or wealth used for the production of other goods and services rather than for immediate or personal use. If one just plays games on their computer, the computer can not be considered capital. However, if it is used to produce reports or graphs which are then sold, the computer can be considered capital. Capital is central to a capitalist economic system. ODSS Also the title of Karl Marx's major critical analysis of capitalism see Wikipedia
Catharsis Greek for ‘pouring out,’ with the suggestions both of purifying and purging; Aristotle used the word to convey the purpose of tragedy—to summon up the emotions of pity and fear, thereby allowing a viewer to get rid of these ‘weak’ emotions. POP!:
Code (Semiotics, Structuralism, Poststructuralism, cf. Representation): in semiotic terms a code refers to a situation where one thing represents and/or signifies another. A sign is a code made up of two parts, that which we see or hear (the signifier) and that which it signifies (the signfied). Language is a code, listen to or read a language you do not understand and it should become evident that it is a code. Even a representational painting is a code as Rene Magrittle noted in his painting The Treachery of Images, 1928–1929, which is a painting of a pipe with the words Ceci n'est pas une pipe written underneath. Magritte is pointing to the fact that any picture is not the actual thing but something that stands in for the thing, which is to say it is something else. Even a photograph of a pipe is still not a pipe. Joseph Kosuth took Magritte's point further in his One and Three Chairs, (the date of this work is in dispute (Buchloh 1989), it is usually stated as 1965 but Kosuth has stated (in Gintz 1989) that he only thought of it in 1965 and it was not made until later, It is a tribute to the unshakable faith in individualistic artistic genius within the art sytem that the date has not been revised in spite of Buchloh's research and Kosuth's statement). Aside from this, One and Three Chairs is a remarkable work, Kosuth placed a real chair next to a life-sized black and white photograph of the chair, juxtaposed with a dictionary definition of chair. In so doing he draws our attention to the fact that the photograph is as much as a code or re-presentation as is the dictionary definition we are merely dealing with different levels of abstraction. Verbal language reveals that the more abstract the code, which is to say the more removed it is from that which it refers to, the more powerful it is as a cognitive tool. Another instance of this phenomenon is mathematics which can model aspects of reality that are beyond the senses.
Colonialism (Postcolonial Studies): policy by which a nation establishes, maintains, and/or extends control over foreign territory, its peoples, and its resources.
Co-option: process of incorporating (integrating, uniting, subsuming) an oppositional idea, individual, or group into an established system.
Commodification: can be understood in negative Marxist terms where '"authentic" culture is devalued by ... making it a cultural commodity' POP!: On the other hand one can understand commodification in terms of a democratisation of culture. A position in between these two extremes seems most balanced.
Condensation (Freud/psychoanalytic theory): a cognitive process evident in dream where one image is fused with another, it is a process similar to metaphorisation (the creation of metaphor). ENG 260
Connotation: the secondary meanings that cultural texts and practices carry or support.POP!:
Continuum (a term specific to Deconstructing Installation Art) relates to dialectic and deconstruction. The notion of continuum overcomes binary opposition by projecting the oppositional terms into a continuum which entails overlap and degrees of difference.A narrative continuum, for example, overcomes the opposition of linear and nonlinear narrative by suggesting that there is a space in between where a balance can be achieved between the advantages and disadvantages of both approaches.
Counter-culture: A radical culture that rejects or works against established, conventional, or dominant social values and practices.POP!
Cultural code (Barthes/Structuralism-Poststructuralism): elements that appeal to a system of shared social knowledge (e.g. proverbs, literary allusions). ENG 260
Cultural imperialism (Postcolonial Studies): intellectual subjugation and degradation of colonized peoples through promoting the colonizer’s culture at the expense of the culture of the colonized. ENG 260
Cultural Studies: interdisciplinary study of culture, which draws from a variety of other fields of study (such as anthropology, sociology, gender studies, feminism, literary criticism, history, psychoanalysis) in order to discuss contemporary texts and cultural practices. Key issues include ethnicity, gender, class, politics, and ‘mass taste.’ POP!
Cultural capital: the cultural assets or access of a particular class, as distinguished from material capital; see Bourdieu. POP!
Culture industry: the products and processes of mass culture, marked by homogeneity and predictability; see. the Frankfurt School. POP!
Cultural populism: the idea that the cultural texts and practices of “ordinary” people are more important than those of the “elite.” POP!


Dead Metaphor: a metaphor no longer recognized as such, one ‘naturalized’ by social use and cultural habit (e.g. ‘time is money’ may be perceived as simple economic truth; ‘the sun rises’ may be perceived as natural truth [... in Ptolemaic cosmology, the earth was fixed and the solar system moved around it]). ENG 260
Death of the author (Barthes) Barthes posits the 'birth of the reader' out of the 'death of the author', which essentially is an attempt to shift criticism away from an overbearing focus on and apotheosis of 'great men' (today we can also include 'great women') and move towards an appreciation of the multiplicity of meanings that the manifold of readers might bring to the text. In the context of contemporary avant-gardist fine art, the reader is generally as powerless as he or she has ever been. The only signs of a breakthrough are evident in digital interactive art and in the democratisation of artistic practice via alternative publishing media (art galleries can be understood as publishers), in particular, the Internet.
Decolonization (Postcolonial Studies): process of changing from a colonized territory to an independent nation, occurring in social and cultural ways as well as in political and economic ones. ENG 260
Deconstruction: Taking cultural material apart in order to recombine the parts into new configurations. This formulation of the meaning of the term deconstruction is based on Roland Barthes' succinct thesis in 'The Death of the Author' (1977). The cultural-theoretical use of the term 'deconstruction' was originally coined by Jacques Derrida. What is most interesting about deconstruction is that it is fundamentally an interface between intellect and creative process.  Deconstruction is commonly mis-defined as a synonym for analysis, but this is not the case; analysis is rational whereas deconstruction entails a dialogue or dialectic between reason and creativity.
Defamiliarization (Shlovsky/Formalism): From the Russian ostranenie (остранение) literally, ‘making strange’—a component of ‘literariness’ involving making the ordinary seem alien. ENG 260
Deixis, in visual narrative revealing meaning by 'pointing' rather than by spelling out a message.
Desire (Lacan/Psychoanalytic Criticism): produced by the gap between a fundamental need and the inability of language to articulate a demand for meeting that need—the mark of the failure of language; it is effected by the transition from the Imaginary to the Symbolic. ENG 260
Deterritorialization is a concept created by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus (1972), Deterritorialization may mean to take the control and order away from a land or place (territory) that is already established. It is to undo what has been done. For example, when the Spanish conquered the Aztecs, the Spanish eliminated many symbols of Aztec beliefs and rituals. Reterritorialization usually follows, as in the example when the Spanish replaced the traditional structures with their own beliefs and rituals. Wikipedia.
Dialogic, dialogical, (from dialogue): how language is used and how language-use is always articulated with other social and cultural practices—is in dialogue/potential conflict with other uses of language, other cultural texts/practices; see Foucault. POP!
Différence:  what differs and what is deferred (Derrida). POP! The term relates to the concept of sign, code and representation in the sense that in order to function as cognitive processes signifying systems must detach from what they refer to and become self-contained, models, abstractions, simulacra etc. .
Differance (Derrida/Deconstruction): combining two senses of the French verb differer (to differ and to defer) as well as the spelling change (unheard but seen) of –ence to –ance, the term refers to how language never contains or conveys full meaning; meaning is always deferred and different. ENG 260
Discourse: the means by which institutions wield power through a process of definition and exclusion; inseparable from power; see Foucault. POP!
Dialectic;dialectical reasoning (Hegel, Marx): form of logic that makes use of binary oppositions with a view to establishing a third term that avoids the oversimplification intrinsic in binary thinking. Another way of dealing with the problem of binary simplification is to turn the opposing terms into a continuum that allows overlap and degrees of difference.
Diaspora (Postcolonial Studies): from Greek for ‘dispersal,’ the term refers to a (usually forced) exile or displacement of a people (e.g., Jews two thousand years ago, Africans a few hundred years ago); today the term often refers to descendants of these dispersed peoples, migrants, and transnational citizens.ENG 260
Displacement (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): the process that creates a disguised dream-image (compare with metaphor). ENG 260
Discourse:  the means by which institutions wield power through a process of definition and exclusion; inseparable from power; (Michel Foucault) POP! Some people include non-verbal signifying systems within the range of ‘discourse.’ ENG 260
Discursive formations: conceptual frameworks that allow some modes of thought and deny others; body of unwritten rules which attempt to regulate what can be written, thought, and acted upon in a particular field; see Foucault. POP!
Dream Work (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): the transformation of latent elements (repressed experiences, taboo thoughts) into manifest elements (episodes, symbols that an awakened dreamer remembers) of a dream. By tracing the processes of condensation and displacement, one can decode the manifest elements in order to uncover the latent elements that may be responsible for neurosis, psychosis, etc.ENG 260


Economy, in the context of cultural theory the term has been appropriated and deconstructed as is the case in George Bataille's 'General Economy' outlined in La Part maudite, (The Accursed Share). .
Evolution, with mass media, evolution is one of the most powerful demonstrations of the impact of scientific thinking on cultural thinking. Evolution gave rise to the Nietzschean declaration ‘God is dead’ which has existentialist implications.
Ethnography: the recording of human culture in a systematic way.
Encrusted text: a primary text encrusted within a sublevel of texts produced by the culture industry to promote it (includes ads, criticism, comments, fanmags, etc.) to form a “super” text. POP!
Enlightenment: The Enlightenment, also known as the Age of Reason, was the dominant intellectual movement of the 18th century. Enlightenment thinkers shared the faith in the supremacy of human reason, believing that people, through the use of their reason, could find answers to their questions and solutions to their problems. Insisting that human institutions should conform to logic and reason, they challenged traditional royal and Church authority and called for the end of the Old Regime. Leading Enlightentmnent thinkers include, Montesquieu, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Diderot. LINES
Everyday, (everyday life)  a sociological and anthropological concept explored by Michel de Certeau and Henri Lefebvre. The suggestion is that whereas aspects of everyday life may be routine, other aspects are culturally complex. One can relate such observations to the phenomenon of Reality TV
Existentialism Existentialist philosophy concerns itself with trying to understand fundamentals of the human condition and its relation to the world. WIKIP In particular, existentialism is a philosophical response to the loss of religious belief in modern society.
Existentialist feminism: argues that women are oppressed because they are/are seen as the “Other” or the secondary in relation to the “Self” or primary existence of men; man, then, defines his own existence (is subject), while woman is defined by what she is not; see de Beauvoir. ENG 260
Ecriture Feminine ([French] Feminist Criticism): ‘woman’s writing’ or ‘writing the body,’ in the sense of inscribing a quasi-biological femininity into patriarchal symbolic systems like language.ENG 260
Ego (Freud): The conscious, rational, socialised self.
Essentialism: belief that attributes like gender and race are inborn features of being (as opposed to socially constructed), sometimes seen as biological determinism.ENG 260
Ethnicity: identity based not on an essentialized notion of race but on all features of cultural origin (e.g., religion, domestic practices, music, philosophy). ENG 260
Ethnic Criticism: theoretical and practical focus on texts by and textual representations of ethnic groups. In the U.S., African American studies are the most prominent example of ethnicity-based analysis, and other ethnic groups (e.g. American Indian, Latino, Asian American, Arab American) are quickly developing their own academic-intellectual spaces. ENG 260
Ethnography/ethnology: the scientific description (as in writing down, classifying) of races and cultures/the scientific study of races and cultures. ENG 260
Eurocentrism (New Historicism, Postcolonial Studies, Ethnic Studies): belief that European culture, history, and values are universal, normative, and/or superior. ENG 260
Euphemism: a ‘nice’ or ‘sanitary’ or ‘soft’ term in place of a harsher or more disturbing one (examples: ‘his passing’ rather than ‘his death’; ‘to glow’ rather than ‘to sweat’).ENG 260


False consciousness: idea that members of a subordinate social class absorb and become committed to values and beliefs that serve and support the interests of more privileged classes. POP!
Female gaze: (feminism, see gaze) way of engaging ideas of how women look at popular culture or struggle to articulate/disarticulate/rearticulate meaning within capitalism, patriarchy, etc. POP!
Frankfurt School, The Frankfurt School is a school of neo-Marxist social theory, social research, and philosophy. The grouping emerged at the Institute for Social Research (Institut für Sozialforschung) of the University of Frankfurt am Main in Germany when Max Horkheimer became the Institute's director in 1930. Wikipedia Frankfurt School theorists whose work took an aesthetic orientation include: Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, and Herbert Marcuse.
Feminism: social theories, moral philosophies, economic and political thought, that are concerned with social, political, economic inequalities and practices that discriminate against women. Feminists may disagree over the sources of inequality, how to attain equality, and the extent to which gender and gender-based identities should be questioned and critiqued; some of this disagreement may stem from continuing pressure to conform to masculine norms. Liberal feminists, such as Gloria Steinem, believe the women’s liberation movement revolves around the equality of sexes, and that biological sex should not be the only factor in shaping a person's social identity, socio-political or economic rights. Radical feminists would also argue that feminism is about ending domination or elitism in society. Wikipedia
Feminist Criticism: more properly Feminist Criticisms, the term refers to a wide variety of scholarly and interpretive practices aimed at restoring/recovering/rescuing/resituating/recreating women as textual subjects, producers, and consumers. ENG 260
Film Studies: academic discipline that treats films as texts, analyzing them in ways and drawing on theories common to the analysis of written texts; it also emphasizes the qualities, techniques, and representational histories unique to cinema. Some programs offer courses in filmmaking, screenwriting, production, etc.ENG 260
Foregrounding Form: William F. Hanks notes: 'As the Pragueans and their followers showed, the internal dynamic of poetic speech rests on the intensification of form, or what [Bohuslav] Havránek called the foregrounding of form itself. Through foregrounding of form, aspects of language that are often invisible because taken for granted become the source points from which parallelisms and remarkable tropes are generated. It might even be said that without metalinguistic consciousness, there would be no poetry, that the potential of the one is interwoven with the potential of the other.' (Hanks 1996: 194).
Formalism: Art:art that foregrounds formal qualities such as shape, colour, composition over and above subject matter, akin to abstraction but representational art can be formalist take for example avant-gardist photography in the 1920s and 30s: Alexander Rodchenko, Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, Albert Renger-Patsch. Literature: literary analysis concerned with the properties of the text itself (as opposed to the text’s ‘life’ within history, culture, readerships, etc.). There are many formalist schools, including Russian formalism (early 20th century), the Prague School (beginning in the 1930s), New Criticism (1940s-50s), and Structuralism (1950s-60s). ENG 260
Foucault, Michel. Foucault has had a significant impact on cultural studies due to his groundbreaking concepts of discourse, power, and his use of the panopticon as a metaphor for the social construction of idenity.
Frankfurt School theory has been immensely influential on contemporary cultural studies and is highly pertinent to the analysis of art provided in Deconstructing Installation Art. Wealthy part-time scholar Felix Weil founded the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt in 1924. Its mission was to further the scientific study of Marxism. ... it did not begin to assume its mature approach until the appointment, in 1930, of Max Horkheimer as director. ... he gathered around him a diverse group of scholars to formulate this interdisciplinary approach: Erich Fromm, a Freudian analyst with strong leftist leanings; ... Theodore Adorno, whose doctorate was in philosophy but who at the time was employed as a music critic; Herbert Marcuse, a philosopher and former student of Martin Heidegger. Walter Benjamin, who was never a permanent member of the Institute, was perhaps the hardest to classify, for his work encompassed nearly all the humanistic disciplines and many of the social sciences. Core members of the School were forced into exile by the ascendancy of the Nazi Party to power in 1933. ... Initially scattered throughout Europe in exile, their next permanent base would be Columbia University in New York, with which they formed an association which would last from July 1934 until early 1943. LINES
Freud: Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytic theory has played an integral role in art theory since Surrealism introduced the concept of the 'juxtaposition of distant realities', In the Surrealist Manifesto Andre Breton noted 'a man at least as boring as I, Pierre Reverdy, was writing: The image is a pure creation of the mind. It cannot be born from a comparison but from a juxtaposition of two more or less distant realities.' Surrealist Manifesto, online version.


Gaze (the Gaze), see male gaze, female gaze.
Gaps (Reader Response): elements in a text that are indeterminate and that the reader has to fill.ENG 260
Gender Studies: theoretical investigation of the construction of gender and its representations; in part a development from Feminist Criticism, this approach includes interrogations of masculinity, heterosexuality, homosexuality, etc.
Grammar: formal arrangement of a language and, by extension, of other signifying systems (e.g., one could speak of the ‘grammar’ of fashion); systematic classification of linguistic structure. ENG 260


Hegemony: the system in which the views of a particular group or groups in society, through a process of combined consent and coercion, dominates, establishes, or controls the views of subordinate groups in society; the dominant ideology of a given culture.POP!
High culture: the idea that culture is devalued by making it too accessible, See commodification;
Hyperreal, hyperreality, hyperrealisation: mode of existence in which reality and simulation are experienced as being without difference. POP!
Hermeneutic code (Barthes/Structuralism-Poststructuralism): unresolved elements in a narrative (e.g. questions, riddles, mysteries, enigmas). ENG 260
Hermeneutics (from Greek Hermes, the messenger/interpreter): the theory of interpretation.
Hermeneutic circle
Heterogeneous, heterogeneity, heterotopia, : of different kinds. ENG 260
Homogeneous: of one kind. ENG 260
Horizon of expectations (Reader Response Criticism): the specific set of cultural expectations against which every text is read; these horizons change with time and place. ENG 260
Humanism: a system of thought that concentrates on human interests and creations; Renaissance humanism had a strong component of religious belief, whereas scientific humanism does not involve consideration of religious belief (which is not to say that it’s coequal with atheism). ENG 260
Hybridity (Bhabha/Postcolonial Studies/Ethnic Studies): [Homi] Bhabha’s notion of hybridity stems from his interpretation of the colonial situation, in which colonizers and colonized stand not in a separate, oppositional relationship ... but in a more complex, mutually influential and deformative relationship. Serious thinking about hybridity (and other concepts now linked with Bhabha) has been a feature of ethnic studies long before Bhabha's articles began appearing in the 1980s. ENG 260
Hyperreal, hyperreality: That which is more real than reality: Jean Baudrillard's term which describes the way in which ever-advancing technical reproduction has created realities within reality which, for Baudrillard, threaten to make reality redundant. See simulacrum and simulation.


Id (Freud) das Es (the it) in the original German, Id is Latin for 'it', and is a component of Freud's architecture of the mind which, according to him, consists of Id, Ego, and Superego, WIKIP. The id, ..., is the source of our drives and Freud considered it to be the reservoir of libido. 'The libido' or simply 'libido', is the form of energy cathected [channelled, projected] upon objects or an affect received from objects, predominantly sexual, [Tantricism would consider such sexual energy a subset of a more sublime psychic energy GCS] which underlies all mental processes. Our drives (Freud had very theoretically specific "-drives" such as the death-drive, but drives can often be equated to 'instincts') surge forth from the id and apply libidinal energy to objects, which may result in aggressive or erotic attachments/actions upon chosen objects. The drives of the id are considered to be inborn, operating within the primary psychical processes (those of the unconscious) and are absolutely determined according to the pleasure principle. It is said that the id behaves as though it were unconscious, the reason thought to be is that our ego and our super-ego's ideals and pressures are often in conflict with the id's, causing repression, as the gratification of the id's drives would often be devastating in terms of social- and self-image. The word "id" is taken from the nominative single neuter Latin personal pronoun (is, ea, id) meaning "it" or "that thing." WIKIP
Identity (social science, philosophy) individualism is a typical feature of modern, bourgeois, culture and is highly relevant to fine art due to the social construction of the artist as a 'genius' or 'author-God' (Barthes). See Wikipedia for more on the concept of idenity in psychology, social psychology, and sociology. See also identity politics, ethnicity, border identity, mirror stage, panopticon.
Ideology: A shared system of beliefs and representations that are taken as ‘true’ or ‘natural’ but that may be ‘false’ (Marx called ideology ‘false consciousness’) or ‘socially constructed.’ ENG 260 Discourse theory has challenged the concept of ideology with the notion that all belief systems, including Marxism, are inescapably biased. All that we can do is be aware of such bias. Ideology also relates to the concept of 'readerly' texts, linear narrative, and binary opposition.
Ideological State Apparatuses: systems or institutions that reproduce material practice of ideology, including educational institutions, organized religion, family, organized politics, etc. (Louis Althusser).
Identity politics: problems concerning who can speak for or interpret whom, grounded on the unraveling of an essentialist notion of identity on the one hand and practical ‘political’ considerations on the other. ENG 260
Imagination, in David Hume’s philosophy imagination is the most fundamental human cognitive process. In the age of artificial intelligence and artificial creativity we can understand imagination in terms of stochastic and evolution-like information processing.
Idiolect ([Socio]Linguistics): the subjective elements of a written or spoken text, those elements specific to the experiences, emotions, and expressive habits of an individual. ENG 260 Compare with 'private language'..
Imaginary (Lacan/Psychoanalytic Criticism): the state of being dominated by a non-differentiation between the subject and the world, a dimension of unconscious and conscious (actual and fantasized) images; human subjects move from the Imaginary to the Symbolic by going through the Mirror Stage. ENG 26 This definition is problematised by the fact that the mirror stage is supposed to occur around the age of six months. The question arises as to whether we can step back through the mirror to any significant degree. Dreaming is the most obvious instance where such a regression might occur. Another instance is sexual infatuation, especially the 'mad love' which obsessed Surrealists such as André Breton.
Interpretive community: a loosely connected group who share similar values and assumptions, consume similar cultural products, and tend to use and interpret them similarly; see Radway. POP! In the context of contemporary art the interpretive community are usually members of the institutions of art e.g. art critics and curators. Also: (Fish/Reader Response Criticism), a homogenous group of readers that sanctions particular types of interpretations. ENG 260
Interpretative fallacy: the view that a text has a single meaning which it is task of criticism to uncover. This notion is antithetical to the postmodern concept that a text is decentered; not centered on authorial intent, but rather consists of confrontation among several discourses: explicit, implicit, silent, absent. POP!
Intentional Fallacy the assumption that the meaning intended by the author of a work of art is of primary importance. By characterizing this assumption as a "fallacy," a critic suggests that the author's intention is not particularly important. The term is an important principle of New Criticism and was first used by W.K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley in their essay "The Intentional Fallacy" (1946 rev. 1954): "the design or intention of the author is neither available nor desirable as a standard for judging the success of a work of literary art." The phrase "intentional fallacy" is somewhat ambiguous, but it means "a fallacy about intent" and not "a fallacy committed on purpose." WIKIP
Intertextuality: the idea that a single text is never entirely unique and original but is inscribed, traversed and, consciously and unconsciously, constructed by other texts that have impressed themseves upon the author's awareness. Accordingly, texts and their meanings cannot be self-contained. This concept relates to notions of influence, allusion, and bricolage. ENG 260 Intertextuality is a crucial notion informing not only the reception but also the production of postmodern art, see for example the work of Simon Starling.


Jouissance (Poststructuralism/Feminist Criticism): French for ‘pleasure/joy/play,’ quality attributed to and experienced through the deconstructed text and/or ecriture feminine, a quality that adheres to the slippery, surprising, even sensuous nature of (polysemic) language. ENG 260
Journalism: the study (and eventually practice) of writing for communications media. In the English-speaking world, journalism developed around 1700, when the first newspapers and periodicals were published. Today it also encompasses reporting and commentary on television and, increasingly, the internet . ENG 260 and blogging.
Juxtaposition placing one thing next to another. In art this relates to montage and the Surrealist's ' juxtaposition of ... distant realities', it also relates to metaphorisation, the creation of metaphor (as opposed to reified metaphor).


Language: a crucial term in art theory that follows the adoption of structuralist and poststructuralist literary theory, film theory and cultural studies in the 1970s and 1980s. The concept of language is problematic for art theory due to its association with verbal language, and the cultural privileging of writing over making. However, structuralism pointed to a broader concept of language which includes all structured forms of articulation including dance, music, image making as well as written language.
Liberal feminism: states that there is no systemic determination of women’s oppression, but rather a problem of male prejudice against women, embodied in law or expressed in the exclusion of women from particular areas of life; involves a commitment to reforms concerning the equality of civil rights and opportunity in welfare, health, employment, education, etc. POP!
Lisible (Barthes/Structuralism-Poststructuralism): French for ‘readable’ (usually translated ‘readerly’), the term refers to a ‘closed text’ that appears to demand only passive reading. Opposite of scriptible. ENG 260
Libido: the psychosexual energy originating in the id. Libido is the electric current of the mechanism of personality. It powers all psychological operations, invests desires, and undergoes ready displacement. It is the basic fuel of the self. Because it is of a relatively fixed quantity, like gasoline in a tank, it obeys laws of psychical "economy" in that a surplus in one system means a loss somewhere else. It can be either free or bound (Breuer's term). TERRA
Logocentrism (Deconstruction): term for the traditional Western belief that the word (Greek: logos) possesses metaphysical presence and therefore that speech is anterior and superior to writing—by extension, the belief that language can be authentic, fully representational, and fixed in meaning. Deconstructive practices challenge and attempt to ‘un-do’ logocentrism. ENG 260


Male gaze: an inscription of the image of woman as an object of male desire; see Mulvey. POP!
Marxist criticism: approaching literature and other texts from a material historicist standpoint, grounded in the theories of Karl Marx (and Friedrich Engels, and other Marxist thinkers such as Louis Althusser). A Marxist critic is not necessarily (or even probably) a Communist but, instead, a person who believes that literature reflects and influences the economic base of society. ENG 260
Marxist art theory: the cultural theory of the Frankfurt School, in particular, has had a very major impact on contemporary art theory. It has had less impact on art practice due to the emphasis on conservative art history in fine art departments until relatively recently.
Marxist feminism: feminism in which the domination of women by men is seen as a consequence of capital’s domination over labor (capitalism is the true oppressor); applies Marxist theories regarding the relationship between materials and modes of production to women’s status and class in, say, the role of the family. POP!
Materialist History (Marxist Criticism,/New Historicism): belief that history moves according to economic (material) conditions, modes of production, and class struggle. ENG 260
Media, medium, mass media, media art, multimedia, mixed media, intermedia, mediatise, mediatize, In the context of discussions of art the use of the term ‘media’ has changed over the past twenty-five years from being solely the plural of the noun ‘medium’ to being an abbreviation for ‘mass media’ or technological media (photography, film, video, digital, internet etc). This can be confusing in the context of fine art because the concept of medium and media in the traditional sense are still active. This is evident when we use terms such as ‘mixed media’ or where the word ‘media’ is used as the plural of medium, not as an abbreviation of ‘mass media’. Terms such as 'mediatise' (or 'mediatize) are derivatives of the use of term 'media' as an abbreviation of 'mass media'. The term 'media art' uses 'media' in the sense of 'mass media', as does 'multimedia'.
Metafiction The term given to fictional writing which self-consciously and systematically draws attention to its status as an artifact in order to pose questions about the relationship between fiction and reality. WIKIPEDIA
Metanarratives: universalist stories which operate as homogenizing forces, via inclusion and exclusion of a plurality of narratives.POP! A master story or cultural myth (the French phrase ‘grand recit’ is frequently used also) that inform and sustain other cultural narratives. Many contemporary theorists claim that we live in an era in which metanarratives have broken down, leaving us in cultural crisis; some contemporary theorists think that dismantling metanarratives is necessary to liberate those who have been subjugated by them. An example of a metanarrative: the idea that history moves linearly and progressively from ‘primitive states’ to ‘advanced civilization’—the ‘myth of progress.’ ENG 260
Metaphor: one of the master tropes, ‘metaphor’ comes from the Greek meta (across or above) and pherein (to carry) and refers to how meanings from one thing/word/sign can carry over to define, alter, or modify another thing/word/sign; the high school definition is "a comparison not using ‘like’ or ‘as’ (see Simile)." The represented ‘thing’ is often called the ‘tenor,’ and the ‘thing’ doing the representing is often called the ‘vehicle’ of the metaphor. See also Dead Metaphor ENG 2
Metaphorisation: the process of creating metaphor, the opposite of dead metaphor.
Mirror phase or mirror stage:  according to Lacan, the first stage of development in which we begin to construct a sense of self as a self meant to challenge the experience of fragmentation and to promise control over our own needs. POP!
Mestiza/mestizo consciousness (G. Anzaldua, Ethnic Criticism, Feminist Criticism): term for a mixed, or border identity (in Gloria Anzaldua’s case, Mexican/U.S.) that is more than and different from a blend of two cultures and may be represented through bi- or multi-lingual writing practices. See also Hybridity. ENG 260 Mestiza/mestizo was originally a racist term imposed during the Spanish colonisation of America.Wikip
Metalanguage: when a language is used to talk about a language.
Metonymy: an important trope associated with metaphor, ‘metonymy’ comes from the Greek for ‘same name’ and refers to representing one thing by another thing commonly or physically associated with it (when this other thing is actually part of the thing being represented, it’s called a synecdoche). ENG 260 Standard examples of metonymy/synecdoche are the Crown, the Bench. The disintegration of our cognitive representation of the world into parts serves as the basis for the juxtaposition of 'distant realities' that is metaphorisation.
Mirror Neurones: (Am. mirror neuron) A mirror neuron is a neuron which fires both when an animal performs an action and when the animal observes the same action performed by another (especially conspecific) animal. Thus, the neuron "mirrors" the behavior of another animal, as though the observer were itself performing the action. These neurons have been directly observed in primates, and are believed to exist in humans and in some birds. In humans, brain activity consistent with mirror neurons has been found in the premotor cortex and the inferior parietal cortex. Some scientists consider mirror neurons one of the most important findings of neuroscience in the last decade. WIKIP
Mirror Stage. A key notion in Lacanian psychoanalysis which, like Freudian theory, has been highly influential on art theory.. The mirror stage is especially significant to art theory due to its relationship to the gaze. According to Lacan the very young child makes its transition into social being by perceiving itself in a mirror. Lacan's mirror stage is of interest to visual arts due to its focus on a visual mode of representation although he also stressed linguistic representation (but as a species of hall of mirrors) famously in his statement 'the unconscious is structured like a language'. Lacan's focus on the mirror as determining the formation of the social self or ego seemed metaphorical until recently when the metaphor has found scientific support in the discovery of mirror neurones.
Mode of production: the way a society is organized to produce the necessities of life; basically, the way a society produces its means of existence determines the social, political, and cultural shape of that society and that society’s future development.
Modernity The shift towards democracy, rationalism, the decline of the power of religion and monarchy and the increasing power of the middle classes that accompanied the growth of science and technology. It can be traced back to 17c Europe but major landmarks are the 18c Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution that began in Britain in the late 18c and overtook Europe in the 19c..What follows is another definition of modernity which appears influenced by the sociology of Anthony Giddens: 'modernity is the idea that the present is discontinuous with the past, that through a process of social and cultural change ... life in the present is fundamentally different from life in the past. Modernity contrasts ... with the concept of tradition, which is simply the sense that the present repeats the forms, behavior, and events of the past.' LINES It is certainly the case that the radical turn taken by 'modern art' is such that reconnecting with premodern art with its classical values is exceedingly difficult to justify.
Modernism: in the context of art history and theory modernism is defined as the period in artistic evolution that first took hold in France in the mid-19c with movements that shifted away from the Renaissance, classical tradition of an accurate representation of reality. By 1910 Picasso and Braque's Analytic Cubism introduced the first instance of abstract art which soon led to even more detachment from representation in movements such as De Stijl (pronounced de shtayle) and Russian Constructivism. Modernism in art was marked by a highly productive liaison between fine art design and architecture. See postmodernism.
Moi, Toril. a feminist theorist who works on women's writing and the intersections of literature, philosophy and aesthetics; on "finding ways of reading literature with philosophy and philosophy with literature without reducing the one to the other."Moi is the author of Sexual/Textual Politics: Feminist Literary Theory (1985; 2nd edition 2002), Simone de Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman (1994); and What Is a Woman? And Other Essays (1999). She is the editor of The Kristeva Reader (1986), and of French Feminist Thought (1987). Her new book, Henrik Ibsen and the Birth of Modernism: Art, Theater, Philosophy, will be published by Oxford University Press in September 2006. Wikipedia
Mimesis: Greek for ‘imitation,’ that which attempts to describe external reality.
Myth (see allegory, metaphor, nonlinear narrative) broadly, the stories a culture tells itself to banish contradictions, make the world understandable/habitable, and make peace with selves and existences. POP!
Multi-culturalism: broad term referring to an intellectual climate that accepts and celebrates cultural (ethnic, religious, nation-origin) differences; in the U.S., multi-culturalism presents a rather different vision than the older ‘melting pot’ theory of assimilation ENG 260.
Mytheme (Levi-Strauss/Structuralism): the smallest unit of signification in myths (analogous to phoneme); building block of structural anthropology. ENG 260 If we can break myth down into basic units we can do the same for narrative, and the fundamental unit of a verbal and or written narrative is the sentence, in film it would be a shot. .


Narrative: narrative is commonly understood as synonymous with 'story', but this simple definition becomes problematic when we examine instances such as visual narrative, myth, poetic function, dream, and nonlinear narrative. A more abstract definition of narrative can be adopted in the context of art theory due to the prevalence of nonlinear narrative in modes of art such as video art. Understood more abstractly narrative can be understood as the building of individual elements into a composition or construction that is concerned with signification as well as emotional effect. Classical narrative is more or less linear with a beginning middle and end, but it is possible to play with the structure of narrative and create more complex constructions. It is also possible to deconstruct narrative to the point where it bear little relationship to a story, e.g. James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake.
Narratology: the study of narratives—that is, of sequenced stories; often uses methods from Semiotics and Structuralism.
Narrator: the speaker or writer of a text, usually distinguishable from the ‘real-life’ author; in literary studies, narrators are often characterized as ‘reliable’ (we ‘trust’ his/her statements and, more or less, evaluations of the constructed world s/he inhabits) or ‘unreliable.’ See also persona. ENG 260 Structuralist narratology: Using structuralist methods and principles, narratologists analyse the systematic features and functions of narratives, attempting to isolate a finite set of rules to account for the infinite set of real and possible narratives. Starting in the 1960s, the French critic Roland Barthes and several other French narratologists popularised the field, which has since become an important method of analysis in the United States as well.LINES
New Criticism: The ideas dealt with in New Criticism are relevant for contemporary art in view of the fact that many works of art in the contemporary canon depend on contextual information for their meaning, which indicates aesthetic weakness from the point of view of New Criticism. The following account of the basic tenets of New Criticism is taken from Wikipedia: 'New Criticism was the dominant trend in English and American literary criticism of the mid twentieth century, from the 1920s to the early 1960s. Its adherents were emphatic in their advocacy of close reading and attention to texts themselves, and their rejection of criticism based on extra-textual sources, especially biography. ... The notion of ambiguity is an important concept within New Criticism; several prominent New Critics have been enamored above all else with the way that a text can display multiple simultaneous meanings. In the 1930s, I.A. Richards borrowed Sigmund Freud's term "overdetermination" (which Louis Althusser would later revive in Marxist political theory) to refer to the multiple meanings which he believed were always simultaneously present in language. To Richards, claiming that a work has "One And Only One True Meaning" is an act of superstition (The Philosophy of Rhetoric, 39). In 1954, William K. Wimsatt and Monroe Beardsley published an essay entitled "The intentional fallacy", in which they argued strongly against any discussion of an author's intention, or "intended meaning." For Wimsatt and Beardsley, the words on the page were all that mattered; importation of meanings from outside the text was quite irrelevant, and potentially distracting. This became a central tenet of the second generation of New Criticism. On the other side of the page, so to speak, Wimsatt proposed an "affective fallacy", discounting the reader's peculiar reaction (or violence of reaction) as a valid measure of a text ("what it is" vs. "what is does"). This has wide-ranging implications, going back to the catharsis and cathexis of the Ancient Greeks, but also serves to exclude trivial but deeply affective advertisements and propaganda from the artistic canon.' WIKIP
Neo-Colonialism (Postcolonial Studies): controlling other, nominally ‘independent’ countries through economic pressure and cultural imperialism. ENG 260
New Historicism: an approach to textual analysis that advocates the 'parallel' and ‘horizontal’ (synchronic) reading of transdisciplinary texts. For example, reading literary texts together with non-literary texts written at a particular point in history as opposed to the chronological, vertical, and specialised focus of traditional history. There is a relationship with Michel Foucault's concept of the episteme. See Wikpedia.
Non-place: ' Marc Auge defines non-place as having no identity, no history and no urban relationships. Non-places are transient spaces for traffic, communication and consumption, from inside a car on the freeway to the transit zones of an airport. Non-places are defined by the logic of excess information and they create a new anthropology of 'supermodernity'. The new architectures of non-place consist of spatial flows, movement and transitional zones.' (MacDonald 2001). The concept of non-place is a significant theme in contemporary photography one can cite the work of Thomas Struth, Thomas Ruff, Andreas Gursky, and Miriam Bäckström.


Oedipus complex: Freud's metaphor for the process of an individuals transition from polymorphous perversity to socialised being. Largely replaced by Lacan's mirror stage which has more scientific support in the form of mirror neurones.
Oedipus Complex (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): Freud’s explanation for how we are socialized. based on the Oedipus myth, in which Oedipus murders his father and marries his mother, this complex pertains to male subjects who have not matured into a ‘normal’ sexuality in which affection and jealousy are vested in non-family members. Feminist psychoanalysts added ‘The Electra Complex’ to account for female subjects. ENG 260
Other, the Other, Jacques Lacan 'considered the self as something constituted in the "Other", that is, the conception of the external.[see Mirror Stage and mirror neurones]... Lacan picks up on Saussure's observation that a signifier is distinguished and identified through its difference from other signifiers ... language is never completely contained - it always contains things beyond what is intended, and these things form an endless chain of signifiers. This signifying chain, and more broadly the ordering structures of language in general constitute the Other (always capitalized in Lacan's work)'. WIKIP
Other (Lacan): the realm outside of the Symbolic, akin to the Lacanian Real and associated with femininity and the unconscious. ENG 260
Other,(Postcolonial Studies/Cultural Studies/New Historicism): Any person or group constructed as foreign/alien—such constructions most often serve to create the self or the ‘in-group’ (race, nation) through contrast and to give it a positive valuation.
Overdetermined: usually modifying a linguistic or textual feature (‘overdetermined metaphor,’ ‘overdetermined sign’), the term refers to the quality of polysemy and thus moves toward ‘indeterminate’ or ‘undeterminable.’ ENG 260


Panopticon, originally Jeremy Bentham's name for his design for a modern prison with a central watchtower, but the concept is pushed further by Michel Foucault who uses it as a metaphor for social surveillance and the social construciton of identity. Foucault's notion of panopticon relates to Lacan's mirror stage as both point to the way in which individual identity is constructed by social interaction and social represenation.
Paradigmatic (Jakobson/Formalism/Linguistics): paradigmatic relationships are associative (as in metaphor) that operate on the vertical axis of language. ENG 260 Paradigmatic axis of language: meaning can be changed by substituting parts, operating along plane of associations. POP!
Parapraxes (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): see Freudian slip; behaviors such as slips of the tongue, nervous tics, obsessional activities that give symptomatic evidence of problems stemming from the unconscious. ENG 260
Pastiche:  whereas parody is intended to mock divergence from convention, pastiche has no intention or sense of a convention from which to diverge. POP!
Patriarchy: “rule by the father”; the social situation or institution in which men have and control wealth, power, and status over women.POP!
Patriarchy (Feminist Criticism/New Historicism): a system (social, political, representational) dominated and controlled by men, modeled after family structures in which the father rules the household. ENG 260
Persona: a narrator with a perceivable character and/or viewpoint, conventionally seen as separate from the real-world author. From the Latin personare, meaning ‘to sound through [a mask]’ and referring to masked actors in Greek and Roman theater—thus a persona is often defined as an ‘authorial mask. ENG 260
Phallocentrism (Psychoanalytic Criticism): the ordering of Symbolic systems of difference around sexuality, where difference is determined according to possession or lack of the phallus.
Phallogocentrism (Psychoanalytic Criticism/Deconstruction): the combination of phallocentrism and logocentrism, the term refers to a system that privileges the phallus as both the main marker of sexual difference and as the guarantor of truth and meaning in language.
Poetic function: (Semiotics) a term coined by Roman Jakobson, a pioneer of semiotics, Jakobson described poetic constructions in terms of "the projection of the principle of equivalence from the axis of selection to the axis of combination".
Polysemy, polysemous: describes a text as open to both dominant and oppositional readings; see Fiske. POP! Dante's use of the word means multi-layered meanings. ENG 260
Post-feminism: the idea, not that feminism is thing of past or has done all its work, but that boundaries between feminists and non-feminists are more “fuzzy.” POP!
Postmodern feminism: opposes essentialism (belief that gender differences are innate rather than socially constructed), and advocates a plurality of knowledges. POP!
Power (Michel Foucault) and power/knowledge, Foucault's theory of power is that it is distributed rather than centralised as it is in Marxist theory.
Postcolonial Criticism: study of textual and cultural representations of and by once-colonized nations and their citizens, a field that is often interdisciplinary and overtly politicized. This ‘school’ of criticism has mushroomed (to use a Mixed Metaphor) in the last decade. ENG 260
Poststructuralism: a loose synonym for Deconstruction, poststructuralism refers to the shift in structuralist thinking that occurred in France during the mid-1960s--initially characterized by emphasis on the ‘free play’ of the text, the ways that meanings slip and slide, the ways that formal unity cracks, even collapses under its own pressure. ENG 260
Psychoanalytic Criticism: literary study that draws many assumptions and techniques from psychoanalysis (itself a form of textual practice in which patients produced narratives that were then subject to interpretation). The works of Sigmund Freud are fundamental to all psychoanalytic criticism, but strictly Freudian analysis has been superceded by Lacanian and feminist approaches. Jungian psychoanalysis (popular thirty years ago) is also making a modest comeback. ENG 260
Psychoanalytic feminism: growing out of psychoanalysis, examines how gender is normalized in the structure of the human mind POP!.


Queer Theory: (Judith Butler Gender Trouble) a 1990s term for the study of texts by and textual representations of gay men and lesbians, as well as the interrogation of essentialist notions of sexual identity. It posits a commonality of interests between gays, lesbians, bi-sexuals, and sympathetic straights. ENG 260


Radical feminism: argues that the present patriarchal system results in women’s oppression, that it is a system of domination in which men as a group have power over women as a group. POP!
Reception: the process of viewing and reading a work of art and the process of writing commentary on art. The body of literature on an artist's work can referred to as its 'reception'.
Reader, the reader has become a focus for contemporary cultural theory, and a reader-centric approach informs the thesis in Deconstructing Installation Art. See also 'death of the author' which was more positively expressed by Barthes as the 'birth of the reader'.
Reading, a notion that became applied to viewing works of art after the influence of structuralist and poststructuralist literary and film theory on art theory in the 1980s and 1990s.
Reader Response Criticism: an approach that treats the reading of visual texts as a performative act, to quote Barbara F. McManus 'each reading is a performance, analogous to playing/singing a [scored] musical work, enacting a drama, etc.'. Accordingly, art exists only when it is read; meaning is an event' (McManus 1998). Reader response criticism also suggests that the artistic text 'possesses no fixed and final meaning or value; there is no one "correct" meaning. Literary meaning and value are "transactional," "dialogic," created by the interaction of the reader and the text..' (McManus 1998). ALSO Reader-response criticism is a group of approaches to understanding literature that explicitly emphasizes the reader's role in creating the meaning and experience of a literary work. More specifically, reader-response criticism refers to a group of critics who study, not a literary work, but readers or audiences responding to a literary work. This school emerged in the 1960s and '70s, particularly in America and Germany, in work by Norman Holland, Stanley Fish, Wolfgang Iser, Hans-Robert Jauss, and others. Important predecessors were I. A. Richards, who in 1929 analyzed a group of Cambridge undergraduates' misreadings, and Louise Rosenblatt who, in Literature as Exploration (1938), argued that it is important for the teacher to avoid imposing any "preconceived notions about the proper way to react to any work." WIKIP
Reflection theory: the idea that the politics of a text or practice can be reduced to the economic conditions of its production.
Reification (Marxism) translation of the German Verdinglichung, the 'thingification' of social, human, relations. Reification suggests turning human relations into dehumanised relations. Reification relates to alienation and commodity fetishism. Reification can also be understood as the commodification of human relations. In terms of art see Sylvie Fleury. Another definition: Reification (Marxist Criticism): thinking of and treating people as things, often seen as a function of the alienation of labor. ENG
Repressive hypothesis: suggests an approach to sexuality in terms of censorship and prohibition; the idea that different discourses on sexuality are not about sexuality but, rather, constitute sexuality; see Foucault.
Representation: in postmodern theory the concept of representation is understood as re-presenting, which is to say there is no original presence, there is only the representation (Derrida). Put more boldly there is no absolute truth there is only a representation which is in fact a construction of reality. Take a contemporary instance of reality TV: Channel 4's Celebrity Big Brother January 2007 where a group of people were placed in an enclosed set of rooms constantly viewed by video cameras and carrying radio microphones at all times. This would appear to guarantee 'truth' in an almost scientific sense. The footage broadcast to millions of viewers depicted some members of the house as 'racist'. But,on release from the house, and suffering from the mass hatred that the footage created, one of the 'housemates' concerned, Jo O'Meara, made the correct observation that the footage had been edited. This event is remarkably relevant to a Turner Prize nominee of 2006 Phil Collins whose piece concerned people damaged by appearing in reality TV programmes, Collins did not win the prize in spite of the fact that his work was by far the most socially relevant.
Racism (Ethnic Studies/Cultural Studies/Postcolonial Studies): institutionalized assignment of values to real or imagined differences between people, in order to justify aggression and protect privilege.ENG 260
Reader (Reader Response Criticism): obviously, the real-world writer is someone who reads a text (for example, you). But authors often write to (and construct) an ‘ideal reader’ (someone who would understand EVERYTHING that the author would want a reader to understand), and texts (and authros) often construct an ‘implied reader.’ See also Narrattee.
Reader Response Criticism: an approach to literature focusing on the ways people read and respond to texts, the ways readers and interpretive communities make meaning. ENG 260
Real (Lacan/Psychoanalytic Criticism): that which exists completely outside the reach of language and representation. ENG 260 Supported by discourse theory (Foucault) which pictures discourse as a (necessary) violence inflicted on the real. Necessary because discourse helps us live (via the development of culture and society) more than it contributes to our demise (e.g. political and religious struggle and war).
Reality TV. One of the subtexts of Deconstructing Installation Art is the notion that fine art could learn from reality tv. Currently the British artist Phil Collins is outstanding in terms of his concern for this mode of popular culture. The work of Kutlug Ataman also shares some similarities to reality tv, but with greater sensitivity to the people involved than is usually the case in commerical television productions.
Repressive State Apparatus (Althusser/Marxist Criticism): a direct form of social control, such as the military or the prison system (see also Ideological State Apparatus). ENG 260 From a Foucauldian point of view (Foucault was a student of Althusser) it can be suggested that such extreme instances of social discipline are reflected, albeit in a muted manner, in situations such as the workplace; see Administered World.
Resistant Reading (Fetterly/Feminist Criticism/Reader Response Criticism): oppositional reading practice that detects and resists patriarchal assumptions, phallogocentric structures, etc. ENG 260
Rhetoric: in Greek and Roman times, the art of oratory; now often the study of effective argumentation, whether oral or written (using tropes, emphasis, persuasive diction, and the like). In this century, ‘rhetorical’ has developed a pejorative connotation, as in empty, misleading, or pointlessly ornamental. ENG 260


Scopophilia: (see Gaze) the pleasure of looking, of taking others as objects and subjecting them to a controlling gaze; re: sexual objectification, using another person for sexual stimulation through sight; see Mulvey. POP!
Semiotics: (from Greek semeion, ‘a mark’) the study of signs and language including nonverbal languages. Pioneered by Ferdinand de Saussure, Semiotics would study a variety of sign systems but the principles of study would be drawn from Saussurian linguistics (thus the idea that language is the model for other semiotic systems).
Sign: a unit of meaning made up of a signifier and a signified. In terms of visual language the signifier refers to material properties such as colour, shape etc. whereas the signified refers to the meaning ascribed to such features, a meaning that alters according to context.
Signified (Saussure/Semiotics): that part of the sign which is its contextually defined meaning as opposed to the material aspect (e.g. colour, shape or sound).
Signifier (Saussure/Semiotics): the material features of the sign (colour, shape, sound) as opposed to its contextually defined meaning.
Simulacrum, plural simulacral: a copy without an original; see Baudrillard. The concept describes the process of signification and representation which are fundamentally detached from the real.
Simulation: a concept related to Jean Baudrillard's notion of hyperreality in which mass media and technical means of visual representation blur the boundary between reality and fiction. See also simulacrum.
Socialist feminism: perspective that women are treated as second-class citizens in patriarchal capitalism, and that the key to women’s oppression is the economic system of capitalism; similar to Marxist feminism, but specifically addressing class with gender. POP!
Standardization: (Frankfurt School) promotes passive listening and demands inattention/distraction to consume, POP!
Subculture: the collective values and practices of particular group located within and distinguishable from a larger group or culture. POP!
Supercollector: the title of a critique of Charles Saatchi by Rita Hatton and John, A. Walker (Hatton 2000). The book concerns the power that very rich collectors such as Saatchi wield with regard to making artistic reputations and large profits.
Semantics (Linguistics): study of meaning in language. ENG 260
Signifyin’ (Gates/Ethnic Criticism): a term referring to African American language practice (also African, Caribbean) of creative teasing and/or insulting; a mode of linguistic opposition to dominant discourse and its attendant oppressions.
Simile: a comparative trope that specifies resemblance (something is ‘like’ something else), often defined as a sub-set of metaphor. ENG 260
Simulacrum the notion that simulation reaches a level where it transcends the original and the real, see Baudrillard. In art the simulacral is evident in the work of Thomas Demand, Jeff Wall, Allan McCollum, Miriam Bäckström, and Aernout Mik.
Site specific: a mode of art pioneered by American Minimal Art in the 1960s which linked works of art to the environment in which they were exhibited. A key instance is Donald Judd's wall mounted boxes wherein the wall become part of the work of art. Site specific art is related to installation art as is evident when painters expand the boundaries of painting by using gallery walls as their 'canvas'.
Social construction: the idea that attributes like gender and race are not indwelling (see essentialism) but assigned by social/cultural practice. ENG 260
Sociolect (Linguistics): the social store of knowledge (sometimes class- as well as time- and place-based) that informs a spoken or written text. ENG 260
Social mirror theory, a notion originally developed in modern philosophy that seems very relevant to the expansion of mass media as a means of social representation, social reflection and social construction. See also the mirror stage Social mirror theory is also relevant due to the scientific discovery of mirror neurones. See also panopticon.
Stream of Consciousness: An attempt to recreate in words a person's free, natural thought processes. See Sterne's Tristram Shandy and Joyce's Ulysses. TNG
Structuralism: grounded in Saussurian linguistics (see semiotics) and earlier varieties of Formalism, Structuralism as a critical method and intellectual movement began in France in the 1950s. In brief, structuralists maintain that things (e.g., signs, texts) cannot be understood in isolation but as part of a larger structure . . . that analysis (literary, cultural) should proceed according to linguistic practices . . . and that analysis (which tends toward detecting overarching patterns and therefore structural unity/integrity) can be objective and scientific. ENG 260 Structuralism is a method of analysis practiced in 20th-century social sciences and humanities. It analyses large-scale systems by examining the relations and functions of the smallest constituent elements of such systems, which range from human languages and cultural practices to folk tales and literary texts. In the field of linguistics the structuralist work of Ferdinand de SAUSSURE, undertaken just prior to World War I, long served as model and inspiration.In the domain of anthropology and myth studies, the work done in the immediate post-World War II period by Claude LEVI-STRAUSS introduced structuralist principles to a wide audience. In humanistic and literary studies, structuralism is applied most effectively in the field of "narratology." This nascent discipline studies all narratives, whether or not they use language; myths and legends, novels and news accounts, histories, relief sculptures and stained-glass windows, pantomimes and psychological case studies.LINES Structuralist narratology: Using structuralist methods and principles, narratologists analyse the systematic features and functions of narratives, attempting to isolate a finite set of rules to account for the infinite set of real and possible narratives. Starting in the 1960s, the French critic Roland Barthes and several other French narratologists popularised the field, which has since become an important method of analysis in the United States as well.LINES
Superego (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): The part of the mind representing and utilizing outside forces, controls, and norms . . . the mental policeman. ENG 260
Superstructure (Marxist Criticism): cultural institutions and artifacts (religion, law, academia, literature) that may be perceived as ‘above’ the economic base but in truth reflect, depend upon, and discipline it.ENG 260
Symbolic Order (Lacan/Psychoanalytic Criticism) the order of culture, social construction, ideology and discourse; see Lacan.
Symbolic code (Barthes/Structuralism-Poststructuralism); narrative elements having to do with symbols and systems of symbols.ENG 260
Synecdoche: a part that stands for the whole (for example, 'the crown' for the British monarch 'bench' for judges and magistrates); a type of metonymy. ENG 260
Syntagmatic (Jakobson/Formalism/Linguistics): syntagmatic relations are combinatory (e.g. metonymy) and operate sequentially along the horizontal axis of language. ENG 260
Syntax (Grammar/Linguistics): formal arrangement of signs, sometimes used synonymously with ‘grammar.’ ENG 260
Synthesis (see Dialectic): the third term produced by the interrelationship/clash between thesis and antithesis. The synthesis, in turn, can become a new thesis, generating another antithesis, thus another synthesis, etc. (the dialectical chain). ENG 260


Teleology: The notion that there is such a thing as a final purpose or goal to existence. The concept of teleology is similar to theology and it is significant to note that Darwin's theory of evolution, which is a keystone of the scientific life narrative, is totally antithetical to teleology. And like Darwin's theory of evolution, poststructuralism is anti-teleological.
Text: a unit of language, often used instead of ‘poem’ or ‘novel,’ sometimes used for non-verbal units of signification (e.g. the ‘social text’) . . . from the Greek textus, or woven material (as in textile). ENG 260
Textuality: Textuality is an all-embracing term for the idea that the world itself is nothing but a culturally endorsed system of signs -- of shared codes, conventions, and ideologies -- a textual system whose free play is limitless.(Henderson & Brown 1997)
Thick Description (New Historicism): term from cultural anthropology indicating a method of historical/literary study whereby an text or event is read against orthodox history and through competing histories and discourses to reveal a variety of cultural codes. ENG 260
Third World (Postcolonial Studies): collective term for underdeveloped and/or previously colonized theories; now out of date (as well as somewhat pejorative) although still widely used—as the former ‘Second World’ (the USSR and the Socialist Bloc) has pretty much collapsed into the ‘First World (Euro-America and their allies). ENG 260
Transnational (Postcolonial Studies): term for people (and their cultural products) whose national identity is plural or mobile, as in migrants, exiles, and (sometimes) descendants of diasporic people in general. ENG 260
Trope: A figure of speech, the use of a word or phrase which deviates from the norm. (Henderson & Brown 1997) ADDITIONAL DEFINITION: A figure of speech, a rhetorical turn, from the Greek tropos, or a ‘turning’. ENG 260 Visual Trope: an image that deviates from the norm; e.g. Surrealist montage.


Unconscious (Freud/Psychoanalytic Criticism): as opposed to the words ‘subconscious’ (which suggests an ultimately accessible bottom layer of consciousness) or ‘preconscious’ (which suggests a temporal progression into ‘consciousness’), the unconscious is the antithesis of the conscious—it is radically alien to it. All that is negated in the conscious mind (through denial, repression, etc.) takes up existence in the unconscious, which operates according to a logic and mode of representation entirely different from those of the conscious. ENG 260


Verisimilitude: the attempt to represent reality (through descriptive detail, the appearance of historical accuracy, ‘realistic’ conversation, and the like). ENG 260
Verfremdungseffekt: The term of Verfremdungseffekt is rooted in the Russian Formalist notion of the device of making strange or "priem ostranenie"[2], which literary critic Viktor Shklovsky claims is the essence of all art. Not long after seeing a performance by Mei Lanfang's company in Moscow in the spring of 1935[3], Brecht coined the German term to label an approach to theater that discouraged involving the audience in an illusory narrative world and in the emotions of the characters. Brecht thought the audience should be distanced from emotional involvement in characters, typical of entertainment, so that they could reflect on what was being presented in a critical and objective manner. The proper English translation of Verfremdungseffekt is a matter of controversy. The word is sometimes rendered as defamiliarization effect, estrangement effect, distantiation, distancing effect or alienation effect. Fredric Jameson, in his book Brecht and Method, translates it as "the V-effekt", and many scholars simply leave the word untranslated.WIKIP
Visual narrative: This may be a story as in a film or graphic novel or it may be an event depicted in a single images such as Joseph Wright of Derby's painting An Experiment on a Bird in an Air Pump, 1768. In general contemporary fine art including video art avoids linear narratives that can be too easily understood. Often artists use nonlinear narrative in which components are juxtaposed sometimes by chance (e.g. Surrealism, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist). Some visual narratives depend upon contextual information that is not present in the work, and has to be uncovered by reading about the work. Other visual narratives are so lacking in a common sense basis for ascribing meaning that they can be understood as a hybrid of representation and abstraction, e.g. the work of David Salle.


Women's movement
Women’s Studies: interdisciplinary humanities programs emphasizing representations of and by women, women’s achievements in the arts and sciences, the material conditions of women, etc. . . . increasingly allied with *Gender Studies. ENG 260
Writerly, the 'writerly' text: For Roland Barthes the writerly text is an ‘open’ text that demands active reader (we can add viewer) participation in making meaning. The opposite is the 'readerly text' which is so conventional that it is not especially demanding of the reader (or one can add, viewer). Barthes introduced his distinction between the 'writerly' and the 'readerly' text in S/Z (1974 orig. 1970). Andrew Milner and Jeff Browitt explain that readerly texts position the reader as a 'passive consumer', whereas writerly texts 'demand that the reader actively participate as co-author of the text' (Milner & Browitt 2002: 113) [emphasis added]. Confronted with the nonlinear text the reader has to try that bit harder to make sense out of the work. But whether or not this constitutes the reader becoming a 'co-author' depends upon one's definition of creativity. One can certainly argue that Barthes’ radical approach to reading Balzac’s short story ‘Sarrasine’ is creative. Graham Allen describes Sarrasine as a ‘disturbing twenty-page story existing somewhere between Gothic intrigue, comic tale of ignorance and psychological study of the illusions of love’ (Allen 2003: 84). Barthes takes the challenge of this writerly text seriously’ analysis of Balzac’s short story lasts over two-hundred pages and entails breaking Sarrasine into units of meaning that Barthes refers to as ‘lexemes’ and classifies according to a number of ‘codes’. His analysis of ‘Sarrasine’ takes creative involvement in the writerly text to a level of obsession comparable with creative labour.



YBA Young British Artists, a term coined in the 1990s to describe a minor renaissance of British art to a significant extent powered by the patronage of the supercollector Charles Saatchi.