Writing the Visual

Hill, Andrew (2008). Writing the Visual. CRESC Working Paper 51; Open University, Milton Keynes.

URL: http://www.cresc.ac.uk/publications/writing-the-vi...


In the humanities and social sciences it is principally in written form that research on the visual has assumed the status of academic knowledge and circulated within the university. Despite this, scant attention has been paid to the effects writing the visual has had upon the terms in which the visual is conceived of and comprehended within academia. Jacques Lacan's ontological schema provides a means of conceptualising this relationship in terms of writing the visual entailing a move across ontological orders - from the Imaginary to the Symbolic. This paper examines the implications of this move for the status of the visual within the humanities and social sciences. It outlines four principal approaches to writing the visual in these fields: the humanist, the critical theoretical, the methodological, and the postmodern. Drawing upon Lacan's conception of 'the discourse of the university' the knowledge produced by each approach is situated as seeking to generate a different reader-student. These approaches to writing the visual are located in the broader context of the position of the university in society.

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