The Image History and Theory


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General characterization





Responsible teacher

Maria Teresa Pimentel Peito Cruz Bragança de Miranda, Maria Madalena Túbal Miranda


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language



Available soon



MONDZAIN, Marie-José Introduction a Homo Spectator. De la fabrication à la manipulation des images, Paris, 2007 Bayard (English translation available)
DAMÁSIO, António (2021) "In the beginning was not the word" (Excerpt) in Feeling & Knowing. Making Minds Conscious, Pantheon. (ed. Port: Sentir & Saber. A caminho da Consciência, Lisboa: Temas e Debates, 2020)
BELTING, Hans (2011) Introduction, An Anthropology of Image. Picture, Medium, Body, Princeton University Press, 1-8.

1. Image, Idea and Likeness
PLATO (375 BCE) The Republic. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (
Book VII §514a-§520; Book X, §595a-§605b
BELTING, Hans (1994) Likeness and Presence. A History of the Image Before the Era ofArt,
University of Chicago Press (Forward, pp xxi-xxiv and Introduction. p. 1-9)
McLUHAN, M. (1964) "The Gadget Lover" in Understanding Media: the Exensions of Man, MIT Press, pp. 45-53.

Supplementary Reading
DELEUZE, Gilles (1969), "Plato and the Simulacrum" in The Logic of Sense, pp. 45-56 (and (and: October, Vol. 27, Winter, 1983) l29elc34ld6b933e4da5f3b93476 5b48e9.pdf
BAUDRILLARD, Jean (1988) "Simulacra and Simulations" in Selected Writings, ed. Mark Poster (Stanford; Stanford University. Press, pp.166-184 simulacra-and- simulation.pdf

2. Image, Representation and Language

PANOFSKY, Erwin (1955) "Iconography and Iconology: an introduction to the study of Renaissance Art", in: Meaning in the visual arts, London: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1955, pp. 26-41)
ATKIN, Albert, "Peirce's Theory of Signs", (1. a 1.3; 2 a 2.2; 3-3.4), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).
MITCHELL, W.J. (2003) "Word and Image" in Critical Terms for Art History, R. Nelson and R. Shiff(Eds), The University of Chicago Press, Chap. 4.
FOUCAULT, Michel (1996 [2005]), «Las Meninas», in The Order of Things, London: Taylor and Francis, 2005, pp. 3-18

3. Image and Technology

CRARY, Jonathan (1990), «Modernity and the problem of the observer», in Techniques of the observer. On vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, Cambridge, Mass., MIT Press, 1990, pp. 2-24.
BENJAMIN, Walter (1936/2008), The work of art and other writing on media, Harvard University Press, pp. 19-55)
MANOVICH, Ley (1993) «The Mapping of Space: Perspective, Radar, and 3-D Computer Graphics», []
MITCHELL, W.J (2010) "Image" in Mitchell, W. J. T., & Hansen, M. B. (Eds.). Critical terms for media studies. University of Chicago Press.

Supplementary Readings

CUBITT, Sean (2021) "Mass Image, Anthropocene Image, Image Commons" in Photography Off the Scale Technologies and Theories of the Mass Image, Dvorak, T. and Parikka (Eds.), Edinburgh University Press.

Teaching method

- Exposição de problemáticas e conceitos fundamentais e seus enquadramentoss historico-crítico
- Enquadramento e orientação das leituras obrigatórias
- Discussão de textos com a participação dos alunos
- Análise de imagens com a participação dos alunos

Evaluation method

Continuous Assessment: Assiduity (more than 50% of classes), participation in text discussion and image analysis, group as well as individual work

ASSESSMENT: One evaluation at the end of each of the three chapters of the program:  1 individual written test, 1 oral participation in text discussion, 1 group work.

Subject matter

This course proposes a theoretical and critical reflection on the issue of image in its historical and cultural dimensions. Its program is not organized as a general science of the image endowed with a unique doctrinal body, but rather as a reflection on the historically situated notions of image and the accompanying imagery production. Focusing on the relation of image to thought, politics, religion, technology and the arts, which shaped different notions of the image, it attempts to understand image theory and image production as the result of a given epistemic, historical and cultural experience. Indeed, the issue of image has been present in key Western moments related to the formation of epistemic configurations such as metaphysical, theological, semiological, aesthetical and technological. The approach to this fundamental character of image in Western culture aims to understand the "civilization of images" that we have become and the tensions and mistrusts that, at various times, place images at the centre of confrontations and disputes of significant philosophical cultural and political implications.
With respect to modern and contemporary culture, the program will approach the relation between image, representation and meaning; it will present an archaeology of the technical image (through the devices of photography, cininfomages in contemporary societies through digital networks, media practices and cultural industries. The omnipresence of images in every domain of experience, from daily life and social interactions to politics and science, has brought about (again) the critique of images as "simulacra" and "spectacle" and the description of an impoverishment of our symbolic, critical and even imaginary experience of the world. Between old and new fascinations and suspicions, the image remains an issue of great cultural, political, technical and aesthetic relevance and dispute which this course attempts to address through three main axes: I. Image, Idea and Likeness. II. Image, Representation and Language; III. Image and Technology.

- What is an image?
- The birth of images
- Image symbolic thinking and cognition.

1. Image, Idea and Likeness
- Image and metaphysics: truth, iconicity and simulacrum                                                                                                  - The sacred image or the economy of the image: the relationship between the visible and the invisible

- The "civilization of images": from the desacralization to the massification of images

2. Image and Representation: Symbols, Language and Media
Elements of iconology: images and symbols
- Elements of semiotics: semiosis, language and the figural
- Elements of mediality: frame and apparatus

3. Image and Technology
- The Geometrical Perspective
- The technical image: the modern optical devices of camera obscura, photography and film
- Image Automation and the digital ecology: infographics. Simulations and Operative images