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Understanding Representation

Understanding Representation

  • Jen Webb - University of Canberra, Australia

December 2008 | 176 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"This is an extraordinarily lucid book. I am not sure that there is anyone who can do this sort of thing better than Jen Webb. It is a gift to students; extremely accessible yet complex and sophisticated in its treatment of theories and concepts of representation."
- Jim McGuigan, Loughborough University

Understanding Representation offers a contemporary, coherent and genuinely interdisciplinary introduction to the concept of representation. Drawing together the full range of ideas, practices, techniques and disciplines associated with the subject, this book locates them in a historical context, presents them in a readable fashion, and shows their relevance to everyday life in an engaging and accessible manner. Readers will be shown how to develop a sophisticated attitude to meaning, and understand the relationship to truth and identity that is brought into focus by communicative practices.

With chapters on linguistic and political representation, art and media, and philosophical and cognitive approaches, this book:

  • Guides readers through complex theoretical terrain with a highly readable and refreshing writing style.
  • Explains the techniques and perspectives offered by semiotics, discourse analysis, poetics, politics, narratology, visual culture, cognitive theory, performance theory and theories of embodied subjectivity.
  • Covers the new ideas and practices that have emerged since the work of Barthes, Eco and Foucault - especially communication and meaning-making in the digital environment, and the new paradigms of understanding associated with cognitive theories of identity and language.
  • Teaches readers how to interpret and interrogate the world of signs in which they live.

Understanding Representation provides students across the social sciences and humanities with an invaluable introduction to what is meant by 'representation'.

Resemblance, Representation and Reality
Language and Representation
Representation and the Subject/The Subject of Representation
Representation and the Political World
Representation in the Consciousness Industries: Art and the Mass Media
Conclusion: Representation and Ethics: The Problem of the Gap

'This is an extraordinarily lucid book. I am not sure that there is anyone who can do this sort of thing better than Jen Webb. It is a gift to students; extremely accessible yet complex and sophisticated in its treatment of theories and concepts of representation' - Jim McGuigan, Loughborough University

Very accessible and comprehensive discussion and explanation of complex theoretical ideas. I see this as an ideal introduction to representational theory for undergraduates and postgraduates alike. The book is varied and thorough whilst also structured in suitably short chapters and subsections that are useful for assigning as seminar reading or brief exercises in class. An impressive book for sure.

Dr Matt Selway
School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy, York St John University
September 3, 2019

This is an excellent book which manages to convey a difficult concept (representation) in accessible language. Major philosophies from mainly post-structuralist practices are related with wit, charm and precision.
This book can introduce a methodological basis for research students practising in as diverse fields as ANT (as Deleuze is given prominence) and phenomenology.

Mr Michael Klingenberg
Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, Leeds Beckett University
April 13, 2016

A fantatsic intorduction to represenation and key theories that deals with issues of representation. The book would be extremly useful for students that are required to analyse current culture of representation and its relation to subjectivity and subject positions

Mr Fergus Hogan
Department of Applied Arts, Waterford Institute of Technology
May 22, 2015

Interesting topics covered, however, not essential enough in order to be the essential book in my class. But very good for supplemental readings and to deepen certain aspects.

Miss Kati Voigt
Institut für Anglistik, University of Leipzig
January 10, 2014

Very useful reference book on aspects of photographic theory. The book is presented in clear, easily digestible sections which can be cross referenced with other parts of the course that I teach.
At the level I am teaching the students will not need this as an essential text but I will recommend it as extra reading.

Ms Sinead Wall
Photography and Art, Westport College of Further Education
November 9, 2012

'Understanding Representation' provides a clear introductory text to students who wish to explore issues of representation in their research. Providing engaging examples and exploring multiple forms of representations, this text allows students to develop an understanding of the term 'representation' - and what this means for their research.

Dr Joanna Vearey
African Centre for Migration & Society, University of the Witwatersrand
March 2, 2012

Great book, but too advanced for my first-year course, sorry.

Dr Christopher Wilson
Architecture, Izmir University of Economics
July 19, 2011

A very good, concise and useful book on representation - written in such a way that undergraduates and researchers will easily understand, without losing the intellectual drive.

Professor Andrew Melrose
English, Creative Writing and American Studies, Winchester University
September 14, 2010

I wanted a book that helped students address issues of representation in popular culture. Webb brings up good examples, but students not familiar with cultural studies got confused/alienated by her name-dropping. I may use it again in the future, but will keep trying other books.

Dr Kristina Boylan
School Of Arts Sciences, Suny Institution of Technology
May 17, 2010

Sample Materials & Chapters

Introduction PDF

Chapter One PDF

For instructors

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ISBN: 9781412919197
ISBN: 9781412919180

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