Picturing the self: changing views of the subject in visual culture





Journal Title

Journal ISSN


Volume Title





Peer reviewed



Focusing on theories of subjectivity and the self in relation to the representation of class, gender, sexuality and "race", this research looked at the impact of postmodern theories of the fragmented self and the so-called “death of the author” on our understanding of visual (self) representations. Beginning with Descartes and continuing up to the present, the research is inter-disciplinary and deals with visual material from fine art, photography, and media images. Its theoretical basis is informed by psychoanalysis, Marxism, cultural studies, women’s studies, and lesbian and gay studies. In contrast to other works in the field which focus on portraiture (e.g. J. Woodall ed. 'Portraiture: Facing the Subject', 1997, W. Ewing, 'Face: The New Photographic Portrait', 2006) this book interrogates wider issues concerned with notions of the self (its social and cultural formation and the self as work in process) and its representation across a wider range of examples of visual culture including personal photographic archives, and images of marginalised selves. This book argues that the self and its changing nature in cultural, social and economic contexts have a far greater significance for visual culture than merely portraiture. Research was carried out in archives e.g. Cambridge University Library, Bibliotheque Doucet, and by interviews with artists (e.g. Eugene Palmer) and photographers (e.g. Karen Knorr). Material from this research (funded by the AHRC) was presented at various conferences and research seminars (College Art Association of America Annual Conference New York 2003, travel funded by The British Academy); Association of Art Historians Annual Conference, Liverpool; Kingston University; University of London; Birmingham University, and a public lecture at The National Gallery London, 2005. Reviewed in 'The Art Book', vol.12 issue 3, August 2005, p61, and 'Visual Studies', vol.21.no1 April 2006, 92-103 (10.1080/14725860600613287).


RAE 2008, UoA 63 Art and Design


Doy, M. G. (2005) Picturing the Self: Changing Views of the Subject in Visual Culture, London: I. B. Tauris.


Research Institute