Glossary Terms (1/23)

Studium: Barthes defines studium as the general effect or interest a photograph leaves on its spectator – “a kind of general enthusiastic commitment… but without special acuity” (Barthes, 26). It often supplies some form of context, be it political, cultural, historical, or the like. Barthes claims the studium displays the photographer’s intentions. [js]


Punctum: Barthes defines punctum as an element of a photograph that “breaks,” or punctures, the studium – “a detail i.e., a partial object” (Barthes, 43). The punctum has an expansive quality, evoking the spectator to add something of her/his own imagination to the photograph. It may be an item of clothing, or a particular expression, or some other part of a photograph – either way, it is not coded like the studium and is not an intentional aspect. [js]