Representation and the Body of Power in French Academic Art Theory

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  • It seems natural, even obvious, to distinguish between representations and what they are representations of. A picture of a dog is no more a dog than the word \"dog\" is a furry, tail-wagging mammal. Nor are properties belonging to the object of a representation necessarily properties of the representation: a picture of a big dog need not be big, a picture of a dog that resembles Fido need not resemble Fido; even a picture of brown Fido need not be brown. And no number of pictures of Fido will sympathetically induce changes in Fido or any other dog. But however clear-cut this distinction may be when what is in question are pictorial references to ordinary, middle-sized material particulars such as dogs, it is much less clear in other cases. It is no violation of common-sense to consider \"representations\" of such things as gender norms or national identities or selves as non-neutral in the face of what they represent. The representations of gender norms, for example, can extend and enforce them, can change or undermine them, and may well lend a hand in constituting them in the first place.

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    © 2002 Journal of the History of Ideas. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of scholarly citation, none of this work may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. For information address the University of Pennsylvania Press, 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112.
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    • Schmitter, A.M. (2002). Representation and the Body of Power in French Academic Art Theory. Journal of the History of Ideas, 63(3), 399-424.
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