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Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices

Second Edition
Edited by:

May 2013 | 440 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
Since 1997 Representation has been the key go-to textbook for students learning the tools to question and critically analyze institutional and media texts and images. This long-awaited Second Edition:

• update and refreshes the approach to theories of representation by signalling key developments in the field

• addresses the emergence of new technologies and formats of representation, from the internet and the digital revolution to reality TV

• includes an entirely new chapter on celebrity culture and personalisation, to debates about representation and democracy, and involve illustrations of an intertextual nature, cutting across various technologies and formats in which 'the real' or the authentic makes an appearance

• offers new exercises, new readings, new images and examples for a new generation of students

This book will once again prove an indispensible resource for students and teachers in cultural and media studies.

Stuart Hall
Representation, Meaning and Language
Making Meaning, Representing Things

Language and Representation

Sharing the Codes

Theories of Representation

The Language of Traffic Lights


Saussure's Legacy
The Social Part of Language

Critique of Saussure's Model


From Language to Culture: Linguistics to Semiotics
Myth Today

Discourse, Power and the Subject
From Language to Discourse

Historicizing Discourse: Discursive Practices

From Discourse to Power/Knowledge

Summary: Foucault and Representation

Charcot and the Performance of Hysteria

Where is the 'Subject'?
How to Make Sense of Velasquez' Las Meninas


The Subject of/in Representation

Conclusion: Representation, Meaning and Language Reconsidered
READING A: Norman Bryson, 'Language, reflection and still life'

READING B: Roland Barthes, 'The world of wrestling'

READING C: Roland Barthes, 'Myth today'

READING D: Roland Barthes, 'Rhetoric of the image'

READING E: Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe, New reflections on the revolution of our time

READING F: Elaine Showalter, 'The performance of hysteria'

Frances Bonner
What Do We Mean By 'Documentary'?
Non-fiction Texts

Defining Documentary

Types of Documentary
Categorising Documentary

Alternative Categories

Ethical Documentary Film-making

Dramatisation and the Documentary
Scripting and Re-enactment in the Documentary


Documentary - An Historic Genre?


Reality TV

Natural History Documentaries
Documenting Animal Life

READING A: Nichols Bill, 'The Qualities of Voice'

READING B: John Corner, 'Performing the real: documentary diversions'

READING C: Derek Bousé, 'Historia Fabulosus'

Henrietta Lidchi
Establishing Definitions, Negotiating Meanings, Discerning Objects

What is a 'Museum'?

What is an 'Ethnographic Museum'?

Objects and Meanings

The Uses of Text

Questions of Context


Fashioning Cultures: The Poetics of Exhibiting

Introducing Paradise


Paradise Regained

Structuring Paradise


Paradise: The Exhibit as Artefact

The Myths of Paradise



Captivating Cultures: The Politics of Exhibiting

Knowledge and Power

Displaying Others

Museums and the Construction of Culture

Colonial Spectacles


Devising New Models: Museums and Their Futures

Anthropology and Colonial Knowledge

The Writing of Anthropological Knowledge

Collections as Partial Truths

Museums and Contact Zones

Art, Artefact and Ownership

READING A: John Tradescant the younger, 'Extracts from the Musaeum Tradescantianum'

READING B: Elizabeth A. Lawrence, 'His very silence speaks: the horse who survived Custer's Last Stand'

READING C: Michael O'Hanlon, 'Paradise: portraying the New Guinea Highlands'

READING D: James Clifford, 'Paradise'

READING E: Annie E. Coombes, 'Material culture at the crossroads of knowledge: the case of the Benin "bronzes'"

READING F: John Picton, 'To see or Not To See! That is the Question'

Stuart Hall
Heroes or Villains?

Why Does 'Difference' Matter?

Racializing the 'Other'
Commodity Racism: Empire and the Domestic World

Meanwhile, Down on the Plantation ...

Signifying Racial 'Difference'

Staging Racial 'Difference': 'And the Melody Lingered On...'
Heavenly Bodies

Stereotyping as a Signifying Practice
Representation, Difference and Power

Power and Fantasy

Fetishism and Disavowal

Contesting a Recialized Regime of Representation
Reversing the Stereotypes

Positive and Negative Images

Through the Eye of Representation

READING A: Anne McClintock, 'Soap and commodity spectacle'

READING B: Richard Dyer, 'Africa'

READING C: Sander Gilman, 'The deep structure of stereotypes'

READING D: Kobena Mercer, 'Reading racial fetishism'

Sean Nixon
Conceptualizing Masculinity
Plural Masculinities

Thinking Relationally

Invented Categories


Discourse and Representation
Discourse, Power/Knowledge and the Subject

Visual Codes of Masculinity
'Street Style'


'Conservative Englishness'


Spectatorship and Subjectivization
Psychoanalysis and Subjectivity


The Spectacle of Masculinity

The Problem with Psychoanalysis and Film Theory

Techniques of the Self

Consumption and Spectatorship
Sites of Representation

Just Looking

Spectatorship, Consumption and the 'New Man'

READING A: Steve Neale, 'Masculinity as spectacle'

READING B: Sean Nixon, 'Technologies of looking: retailing and the visual'

Christine Gledhill with Vicky Ball
Representation and Media Fictions
Fiction and Everyday Life

Fiction as Entertainment

But is it Good For You?

Mass Culture and Gendered Culture
Women's Culture and Men's Culture

Images of Women vs. Real Women

Entertainment as a Capitalist Industry

Dominant Ideology, Hegemony and Cultural Negotiation

The Gendering of Cultural Forms: High Culture vs. Mass Culture

Genre, Representation and Soap Opera
The Genre System

The Genre Product

Genre and Mass-produced Fiction

Genre as Standardization and Differentiation

The Genre Product as Text

Genres and Binary Differences

Genre Boundaries

Signification and Reference

Cultural Verisimilitude, Generic Gerisimilitude and Realism

Media Production and Struggles for Hegemony


Genres for Women: Te Case of Soap Opera
Genre, Soap Opera and Gender

The Invention of Soap Opera

Women's Culture

Soap Opera as Women's Genre

Soap Opera's Binary Oppositions

Serial Form and Gender Representation

Soap Opera's Address to the Female Audience

Talk vs. Action

Soap Opera's Serial World

Textual Address and the Construction of Subjects

The Ideal Spectator

Female Reading Competence

Cultural Competence and the Implied Reader of the Text

The Social Audience

Soap Opera: A Woman's Form No More?

Dissolving Genre Boundaries and Gendered Negotiations

READING A: Tania Modleski, 'The search for tomorrow in today's soap operas'

READING B: Charlotte Brunsdon, 'Crossroads: notes on soap opera'

READING C: Su Holmes and Deborah Jermyn 'Why not Wife Swap?


The module will not be running in the academic session 2015-16. Next time it does, I will use the book as supplemental reading - as it was used in 2014-15. The book is comprehensive and accessible for students - a great text.

Dr Carol Ekinsmyth
Dept of Geography, Portsmouth University
February 27, 2015

Hall's work has, in the past few years, risen to become an instrumental account of the cultural and symbolic nature of social interactions underlying the very ways in which we understand our world. This volume is true to his heritage: precise, in-depth, and recommended for all, both the experienced and the novice.

Professor Pedro Neto
Audiovisual and Multimedia, School of Communication and Media
February 21, 2015

I use this to help me plan lessons and refer to it in lessons when teaching about representation. (AS/A Level & BTEC)

Miss Emma Orgar
Media, Capital City Academy
January 27, 2015

It's a great source for Cultural Studies course. Hall provides essential reading for graduate students in film studies/media studies with his book.

Dr Sermin Tag Kalafatoglu
Department of Cinema and Television, Ordu University
December 26, 2014

I am recommending this as supplemental reading for students interested in social representations of disability.

Dr David Preece
School of Education, Northampton University
September 27, 2014

Outside the scope of my class

Professor Roberto Bello
Marketing , University of Lethbridge
September 23, 2014

an interesting & useful text

Dr Kathryn Kinmond
Dept of Interdisciplinary Studies, Manchester Metro Univ. (Crewe)
September 23, 2014

Essential foundational reading for my fourth year and MA students.

Professor Beschara Karam
Department of Communicatin Science, University of South Africa
August 12, 2014

My schedule was switched around and I will not be teaching an intercultural course in the Fall. However, I may use this book the next time I teach the course.

Dr Jennifer Morrison
Communications Studies Dept, San Jose State University
July 17, 2014

Great book, although here and there the examples are a bit dated (especially in the soap chapter --> Cagney and Lacey). What is also missing, unfortunately, is some reflections on new media/the internet. Adding a chapter would definitely be appreciated (or other chapter instead of chapter 6 on soap).

Ms Liesbeth Minnaard
Comparative Literature, Leiden Univ.
July 16, 2014

Sample Materials & Chapters

Representation: The Work of Representation

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