The discipline of art history, especially following its exposure to material and visual culture in the 1980s and 1990s, has noticed that any man-made object or image—beyond written text and the so-called “works of art”—can weave together (whether consciously or unconsciously) numerous important threads concerning their cultural space and time at the moment of their production, retaining richer—and often conflicting—messages than those carried by written texts. By deciphering the form and materiality of these objects, it is thus possible to achieve a more substantial and multi-layered understanding of a past that has already been to fading.

This volume invites forty-eight researchers from Europe, America, Japan, and Taiwan who employ objects or images as primary research materials to describe, analyze, and interpret a work or production that they find particularly meaningful. The topics range from renowned masterpieces to trivial objects in the everyday life, the contents vary from more time-honored art history analyses to the adoption of diverse and new perspectives. More importantly, the essays incorporate a personal touch and open-ended reflective feedbacks that are rarely found in academic writing. The present collection not only showcases the diverse possibilities of how to read and write “objects,” but also re-examines many fundamental assumptions in the discipline of art history.

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Seeing: 48 Object Readers and Their Worlds has been published