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Practices of Looking

An Introduction to Visual Culture

Third Edition

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright

Publication Date - 17 July 2017

ISBN: 9780190265717

504 pages
8-1/2 x 11 inches

In Stock

An invaluable guide to understanding the complexities, contradictions, and pleasures of the visual world


Practices of Looking, Third Edition, bridges visual, communication, media, and cultural studies to investigate how images and the activity of looking carry meaning within and between different arenas in everyday life. The third edition has been updated to represent the contemporary visual cultural landscape and includes topics like the increasingly rapid global circulation of media, the rise of design and DIY cultures, digital media art and activism, and challenges to photojournalism and news media. Challenging yet accessible, Practices of Looking, Third Edition, is ideal for courses across a range of disciplines.

New to this Edition

  • Updated discussions of mobile looking, camera tactics, and meaning-making through examples including body cameras, drones, social media activism, and citizen journalism
  • Updated content about digital media art practice and video game cultures
  • An enhanced focus on visual practice, emphasizing the strategies used to introduce previously marginalized work
  • Updated critical coverage of media infrastructures, brand culture, social media marketing, humanitarian campaigns, environmental issues, and the sharing economy
  • Expanded discussions of design, architecture, and visual activity in the built environment

About the Author(s)

Marita Sturken is Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University.

Lisa Cartwright is Professor of Communication and Science Studies at the University of California, San Diego.

Previous Publication Date(s)

January 2009
February 2001


"Practices of Looking, Third Edition, is a great and valuable textbook for teaching a broad range of critical and theoretical approaches in modern and contemporary visual practices."--Whitney Huber, Columbia College Chicago

"The greatest strength of Practices of Looking, Third Edition, is its relentless drive to instill critical awareness in students. This book contributes greatly to promoting the type of visual literacy that is needed in society both now and in the foreseeable future."--William H. Lawson, California State University, East Bay

"This is that rarest of textbooks--clear enough for undergraduates and challenging enough to use with graduate students. It is simply the best introduction to the most important issues in thinking about the visual from an interdisciplinary perspective."--Michael Coventry, Georgetown University

Table of Contents


    Chapter 1. Images, Power, and Politics
    Vision and Visuality
    The Myth of Photographic Truth
    Myth, Connotation, and the Meaning of Images
    Semiotics and Signs
    Images and Ideology
    Image Icons

    Chapter 2. Viewers Make Meaning
    Producers' Intended Meanings
    Aesthetics and Taste
    Value, Collecting, and Institutional Critique
    Reading Images as Ideological Subjects
    Viewing Strategies
    Appropriation and Re-Appropriation

    Chapter 3. Modernity: Spectatorship, the Gaze, and Power
    The Concept of the Modern Subject
    Spectatorship and the Gaze
    Power and the Surveillance Gaze
    The Other
    Gender and the Gaze
    Gaming and the Gaze

    Chapter 4. Realism and Perspective: From Renaissance Painting to Digital Media
    Perspective and the Body
    The Camera Obscura
    Challenges to Perspective
    Perspective in Digital Media

    Chapter 5. Visual Technologies, Reproduction, and the Copy
    Visualization and Technology
    Visual Technologies
    The Reproduced Image and the Copy
    Walter Benjamin and Mechanical Reproduction
    The Politics of Reproducibility
    Ownership and Copyright
    Reproduction and the Digital Image
    3D Reproduction and Simulation

    Chapter 6. Media in Everyday Life
    The Media, Singular and Plural
    Everyday Life
    Mass Culture and Mass Media
    Critiques of Mass Culture
    Media Infrastructures
    Media as Nation and Public Sphere
    Democracy and Citizen Journalism
    Global Media Events

    Chapter 7. Brand Culture: The Images and Spaces of Consumption
    The Rise of Brands as Image, Symbol, and Icon
    The Spaces of Modern Consumerism
    Brands in Consumer Society
    Social Awareness and the Selling of Humanitarianism
    Social Media, Consumer Data, and the Changing Spaces of Consumption
    DIY Culture and the Share Economy, and New Entrepreneurism

    Chapter 8. Postmodernism: Irony, Parody, and Pastiche
    Simulation and the Politics of Postmodernity
    Reflexivity and Distanced Knowing
    Jaded Knowing and Irony
    Remix and Parody
    Postmodern Space, Architecture, and Design

    Chapter 9. Scientific Looking, Looking at Science
    Opening Up the Body to the Empirical Medical Gaze
    Medicine as Spectacle: The Anatomical and Surgical
    Evidence, Classification, and Identification
    Bodily Interiors and Biomedical Personhood
    The Genetic and Digital Body
    Visualizing Pharmaceuticals and Science Activism

    Chapter 10. The Global Flow of Visual Culture
    The History of Global Image Reproduction
    Concepts of Globalization
    The World Image
    Global Television
    The Global Flow of Film
    Social Movements, Indigenous Media, and Visual Activism
    The Global Museum and Contests of Culture
    Refugees and Borders


Teaching Resources

Ancillary Resource Center (ARC): at https://oup-arc.com/access/sturken-3e is a convenient, instructor-focused single destination for resources to accompany your text. Accessed online through individual user accounts, the ARC provides instructors with access to up-to-date ancillaries at any time while guaranteeing the security of grade-significant resources. In addition, it allows OUP to keep instructors informed when new content becomes available. See resources available on the  (ARC) below:

·         Instructor’s Manual

·          Power Points

·          Test Bank

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