New PDF release: How to Read Barthes' Image-Music-Text (How to Read Theory)

Cultural Studies

By Ed White

Roland Barthes continues to be some of the most influential cultural theorists of the postwar interval and Image-Music-Text is his most generally taught paintings. Ed White presents scholars with a transparent consultant to this crucial yet tricky textual content. As scholars are more and more anticipated to jot down throughout a number of media, Barthes' paintings could be understood as an early mapping of what we now name interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary examine. The book's designated section-by-section readings makes Barthes' most vital writings available to undergraduate readers.

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Extra resources for How to Read Barthes' Image-Music-Text (How to Read Theory)

Example text

Barthes spends some time talking about the difficulties of labeling and cataloguing these lexicons (47-48), but the larger point here is that the meaning of the image is “not merely the totality of utterances emitted” but “also the totality of utterances received” (47). In other words, to determine the meaning Rhetoric of the Image White T02014 01 chaps 35 35 28/05/2012 09:41 of the Panzani ad, we cannot assume that its meaning is a comprehensive list of all possible connotations, but rather that its meaning must be linked with the possible connotations available to the interpreter in her idiolect.

Here Barthes argues a more basic claim, that 34 White T02014 01 chaps 34 How to Read Barthes’ Image-Music-Text 28/05/2012 09:41 the photograph’s depiction of reality (having-been-there) serves as an alibi for any connotative message. ” When Barthes talks about the image’s “rhetoric,” he uses the term in the classical sense: the tropes and techniques whereby the image conveys meaning. To outline this rhetoric, he returns once more to the problem of the iconic or symbolic message, which is full of discontinuous connotations.

This “literal message” is that the pasta package, the net, the cans of sauce, and so on, all existed somewhere when they were photographed. This third message—these things are—is described by Barthes as “quasi-tautological” (36), almost like asserting that A=A. ); we need what Barthes calls “almost anthropological knowledge,” basic knowledge of human society. Barthes anticipates several objections to this identification of the third, non-coded iconic message. For one thing, how can one distinguish this simpler message from the elaborate, multiform coded iconic message?

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