Representation and image theories

A.A. 2020/2021
Crediti massimi
Ore totali
Obiettivi formativi
The course aims to provide the students with an in-depth knowledge of the main representation and image theories. The proposed historical-critical path will address the fundamental questions and authors of this specific disciplinary field, which belongs to the wider domain of the aesthetic discipline (intended both as a theory of sensibility and as a theory of art), also taking into consideration its interdisciplinary connections with other domains such as: semiotics, art history, history of literature, media history and theory, psychology, anthropology, cognitive neurosciences.
Risultati apprendimento attesi
Knowledge and understanding:
At the end of the course, the students will be able to master and discuss the main representation and image theories developed within the Western cultural tradition, with a particular emphasis on the contemporary debate. Along this path, the students will learn to hold a critical confrontation with the fundamental authors and concepts of this disciplinary domain, understanding its methods and being able to use its specific terminology.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
The students will acquire the skills necessary to apply the conceptual framework of the main representation and image theories to situations pertaining to the strategies of representation in the widest sense of the term and to the experience of the image (both artistic and non-artistic), having recourse to an adequate specific lexicon. They will be able to critically discuss the main theoretical models and to orient themselves in the corresponding literature. They will apply the acquired competences to the reading and critical comment of fundamental texts in representation and image theory. They will be encouraged to propose autonomous and original solutions to problems arising from the common discussion.
Programma e organizzazione didattica

Edizione unica

Secondo semestre
Teaching methods
Lessons will be held in Microsoft Teams following the official class schedule but will always be recorded so that class will be accessible in async mode too, again in Teams.

Syllabus and teaching resources
The program and the assignments will not be changed.

Assessment methods and criteria
The exam will still be oral, but when required by the regulations for distancing, it will be held in Teams. The evaluation criteria won't change.
The course is divided into three teaching units. The first unit, entitled "Ontologies/rethinking the photographic", will deal with the nature of the technical image from the theory of the photographic to the theory of the digital. The second unit, entitled "Affect/doing things with images", will tackle the topic of the engagement produced through the images, both as an affection of the subject and as an agency of the image itself. The third part will be devoted to the relationship between body and image in a twofold way: the represented body between art and science and the body as a medium for producing visuality.
No prior knowledge is required.
Metodi didattici
Lectures, discussions, watching and analyzing still and moving images.
Materiale di riferimento
Assignments for both 6 and 9 ECTS exams (Unit A + Unit B, Tot. 552 pp.):

Unit A - Ontologies/rethinking the photographic (Tot: 263 pp.)

S. Sontag, On Photography (1977), Rosetta Books, New York 2005, pp. 1-19, 39-64 (tot: 43)

R. Krauss, A Note on Photography and the Simulacra, in "October", Vol. 31 (Winter, 1984), pp. 49-68 (tot: 19)

A. Robins, Peirce and Photography, in "The Journal of Speculative Philosophy",
Vol. 28, No. 1 (2014), pp. 1-16 (tot. 15) (

A. Bazin, The Onotology of the Photographic Image, in "Film Quarterly", vol. 13, No. 4 (Summer, 1960), pp. 4-9 (tot: 6) (

H. Farocki, Reality Would Have to Begin, in T. Elsaesser (ed.), Harun Farocki: Working on the Sightlines, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2004, pp. 193-202 (tot: 9) (

G. Didi-Huberman, Images in Spite of All: Four Photographs from Auschwitz, University of Chicago Press, Chicago 2012, pp. 3-4, pp. 6-17, 30-40, 51-88 (tot: 47).

V. Flusser, Toward a Philosophy of Photography, European Photography, Göttingen 1984 (ed. it. Per una filosofia della fotografia, Bruno Mondadori, Milano 2006), pp. 64.

H. Steyerl, In defence of the poor image, e-flux journal #10, November 2009 (tot. 10 pp.)

I. Hoelzl, R. Marie, Softimage. Toward a New Theory of the Digital Image, Intellect, Bristol/ Chicago 2015, pp. 61-80 (tot. 20)

F. Richtin, After Photography, WW Norton & Co, 2009 (Chapters I and II: "Into the Digital" and "Of Pixel and Paradox") (tot. 30)

Unit B - Affects/doing things with images (tot: 289 pp.)

R. Barthes, Camera Lucida. Reflection on Photography, Hill and Wang, New York, 1981, Part I, pp. 3- 60 (Tot: 57).

M. Fried, Barthes's Punctum, in "Critical Inquiry", vol. 31, No. 3 (Spring 2005), pp. 539-574 (tot. 35) (

B. Latour, What is Iconoclash? Or is there a world beyond the image wars, in B. Latour, P. Weibel (eds.), Iconoclash - Beyond the Image-Wars in Science, Religion and Art, ZKM, Center for Art and Media, Karlsruhe/MIT Press, Cambridge (MA), 2002, pp. 14-37 (tot: 23)

W.J.T. Mitchell, What Do Pictures Want? The Lives and Loves of Images, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 2005, pp. 5-56 (tot: 51)

H. Bredekamp, Image Acts: a Systematic Approach to Visual Agency, De Gruyter, Boston 2017, pp. 11-35, 77-136 (tot: 83)

Harun Farocki, Phantom images, in "Public", n. 29, 2004, pp. 13-22 (tot: 10) (…)

D. Strutt, The digital image and reality. Affects, Metaphysics and Post-cinema, Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam 2019, pp. 9-39 (Tot. 30)

Additional assignment for 9 ECTS exam (Unit C, Tot. 840 pp.):

Unit C - Biopictures/ body matters (Tot: 288)

H. Belting, An Anthropology of Images. Picture, Medium, Body, Princeton University Press, Princeton/Oxford 2011, pp. 1-62 (Tot. 61)

A. Sekula, The Body and the Archive, in "October", vol. 39, 1986, pp. 3-64 (tot. 31) (

T. Gunning, Tracing the Individual Body. Photography, Detectives and Early Cinema, in L. Charney, V. R., Schwartz (eds.), Cinema and the Invention of Modern Life, University of California Press, Berkeley/Los Angeles 1995, pp. 15-45 (tot. 30)

V. Dünkel, X-Ray Vision and Shadow Image. On the Specificity of Early Radiographs and Their Interpretations around 1900, in H. Bredekamp. V. Dünkel, The Technical Image. A History of Style in the Scientific Imagery, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London 2015, pp. 116-128 (tot: 12)

K. A. Gates, Our Biometric Future. Facial Recognition Technology and the Culture of Surveillance, New York Press, New York 2011, pp. 25-62 (tot: 37)

N. Steimatsky, The Face on Film, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2017, pp. 143-179 (36)

D. Greene, Drone Vision, in "Surveillance & Society", 13 (2), 2015, pp. 233-49 (16) (…)

E. Weizman, Violence at the threshold of detectability, in "e-flux journal", 64, 2015 (tot. 12)

G. Agamben, Notes on Gestures, in Id., Means without end. Notes on Politics (1996), University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis-London 2000, pp. 49-59 (Tot. 10)

B. Grespi, The Technical Object and Somatic Thought. Theories of Gesture between Anthropology, Aesthetics and Cinema, in "Aisthesis" 12(2), 2019, pp. 63-75 (12) (

B. Grespi, The Power of the Mechanism. Cinema and the Machinery of Desire, in G. Calorio, S. Tongiani (eds.), Technophilia/Technophobia, Aracne, Roma 2020 (pp. 15).

Slides and other digital resources available on Ariel.
Modalità di verifica dell’apprendimento e criteri di valutazione
The final examination consists of an oral exam concerning the course topics and testing the knowledge and skills acquired by students, with a particular focus on concepts and examples.
The grading system (based on a 0-30 scale, 18 being the lowest passing mark) will correspond to:
- knowledge level of the theoretical aspects;
- the ability to apply concepts to case studies;
- making judgments;
- ability to argue through a specific conceptual and linguistic property
Moduli o unità didattiche
Unita' didattica A
Lezioni: 20 ore

Unita' didattica B
Lezioni: 20 ore

Unita' didattica C
Lezioni: 20 ore

In questa fase ancora emergenziale, si invitano gli studenti a contattare il docente via mail per fissare un ricevimento in remoto
via Festa del Perdono, 7