First published in 2011, “The Handbook of Visual Culture” is now available in paperback format, as it has been recently released in 2017 by the publishing house Bloomsbury. The volume, counting almost 800 pages, has been edited by Ian Heywood and Barry Sandywell. The work includes several contributions – originally papers –written by scholars and professionals from different academic institutions.
The book is divided into five parts, each prefaced by an introductory overview: History and theoretical perspectives; Art and visuality; Aesthetics, politics and visual culture; Practices and institutions of visual culture; Developments in the field of visual culture.
It’s is undeniable that nowadays visual culture is an extremely rich field of study, engaging a huge range of disciplines and research methodologies. The purpose of this handbook is then to offer an extensive and exhaustive aperçu of the area while providing some of the most recent and innovative cross-disciplinary contributions from experts and professionals.
As stated in the Introduction, this handbook has three main aims: to reflect the diversity and creativity of visual culture research, to provide background knowledge, and to be a guide and information resource.
Furthermore, the “interdisciplinary exchange” characterizing this work is certainly more than a recurrent theme; this is rather a valuable approach allowing a constantly open set of perspectives and questioning methods.
The cross-disciplinary approach of the book also marks the vitality and the complexity of the subject, as well as the attention paid to the study of the visual culture from different fields: i.e. art history, sociology, cultural studies, but also neuroscience and philosophy, just to mention few of them. Additionally, with the current developments of technologies, a special interest emerged from the areas of cyber and digital culture.
Unlike other handbooks of this kind, this text “it has been expressly designed” – as stated by the editors – “as a site of provocations and reflective dialogues”, currently challenging and definitive assumption on this subject.
“The Handbook of Visual Culture” represents then a must-have guide for non-experts or students, as well as for more experienced readers in particular, because of the multidisciplinary aspects, showing that new developments and issues are constantly raising, together with new forms of questioning belonging to the most diverse fields of knowledge.