Reading Rembrandt

Beyond the Word-Image Opposition

Mieke Bal

Reading Rembrandt

Mieke Bal

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

498 pages | 5-3/4 x 8-1/4 | © 2006
Paper $71.50 ISBN: 9789053568583 Published September 2006 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
Reading Rembrandt questions the traditional boundaries between literary and visual analysis with close, side-by-side readings of some of the Dutch master’s works alongside paintings of the same era whose attribution is still debated. A new understanding of the role of visuality in our culture emerges, one that makes significant inroads, most particularly, for the study of gender in Rembrandt’s work. Demonstrating acute sensitivity to Rembrandt’s art, acclaimed scholar and author Mieke Bal gives new depth to an old master, a perspective with vast consequences for our views of gender, the artist, and the act of reading.
Contents
List of Illustration
Preface

Introduction
Balancing Vision and Narrative
The Subject of This Study
Why “Rembrandt”?
Why Interpretation?
The Content of This Study
The Terms of Analysis

1. Beyond the World-Image Opposition
Introduction
State of the Art
Words in Images: Beyond Illustration
Words in Images: From Art Criticism to Episteme
Words as Images: Theatricality and Visual Poetics
From Visual Poetics to Comparative Arts

2. Visual Rhetoric: The Semiotics of Rape
Introduction
The Wandering Womb
The Page of Lucretia
Lucretia’s Last Moment
Contagious Logorrhea
Semiotic Appropriation
Real Rape: The Importance of Telling Stories
Conclusion

3. Visual Storytelling: Fathers and Sons and the Problem of Myth
Introduction
The Problem of Myth
Myth and Transference
“Rembrandt”’s Myth: Narrative Devices
Myth and Psychoanalytic Discourse
Freud’s Story of the Sons
Mann’s Myth Versus Man’s Myth
“Rembrandt”’s Men: Jumping to Conclusions
Conclusion
Appendices

4. Between Focalization and Voyeurism: The Representation Vision
Introduction
Voyeurism, the Glance, and the Gaze
“A Cluster of Signs for His Neighbour’s False Suppositions”
Exhibiting Desire
“They Were Hidden and Spying”
“The Focalizer: The Figuration of the Viewer
Susanna and the Viewer
Through the Looking Glass

5. Recognition: Reading Icons, Seeing Stories 
Introduction
The Telltale Dog, or One Woman Too Many
Hagar’s Harrow
The Continuing Story: Hagar Today
The Return of Hagar
Compositional Iconography
Recognition and Narrative: Signs for the Story
Narrative Against Recognition: Sign for the Story
Conclusion

6. Textuality and Realism
Introduction
Signs for Textuality
Textuality and/as Supplement
The Letter’s Speculation
Signs for the Real
Textuality and Realism
Visual Signs and Verbal Images: The Instance of the Letter
Reading Distortion
Conclusion

7. Self-Reflection as a Model of Reading
Introduction
The Still Life of Mirroring: Self-Portraits
Self-Reflection and Its Discontents
The Looking Glass Revisited
Self-Reflection and Realism
The Construction of the Mirror
On Mirror Talk
Vision on the Right Side of Sight
The Challenge of Self-Reflection
Signs for Work
Conclusion

8. Blindness or Insight? Psychoanalysis and Visual Art
Introduction
Collision and Collusion of Psychanalysis and Visual Art
A Taste for Violence
Narcissism and Its Discontents
Narcissism and Self-Reflection
Ecce Ego: Superego, Superman
Medusa’s Spell
Conclusion

9. Blindness as Insight: The Powers of Horror
Introduction
Samson and Sublimation
Samson as Woman
The Story of Insight
Melancholy, Beauty, and the Narrative of Loss
Masculinity Gendered Feminine: The Polish Rider
The Fragility of Mastery
Conclusion

10. Dead Flesh, or the Smell of Painting
Introduction
Language and a Murderous Vision of Death
Language and the Semiotic of Mis-seeing
Staging Death: The Word Become Flesh
Stage Death: Life Become Work
Death as Still Life
Death as Stage: Paint Become Flesh
The Stage of Death: Dis-representation and Mastery
Conclusion

Notes
References
Index of Names and Titles
Index of Subjects
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