Brooke Notes 3/13. Rose, Gillian. Visual Methodologies


Rose, G. (2001). Visual Methodologies. London: Sage Publications.


culture, ocularcentrism, scopic regime, simulacrum, vision, visual culture, visuality


Rose begins Visual Methodologies by defining key terms and giving background on where visuals have served the modern consumer, portrayed viewpoints on cultural order, and the effects of images. Rose leads to her suggestion of a methodology to critically approach visuals by taking them seriously, taking into consideration social context, and remembering oneself as the viewer when analyzing.

Works Cited

Berger, J. (1972) Ways of Seeing. London: British Broadcasting Association andPenguin.

Doane, M.A. (1982) `Film and the masquerade: theorising the female spectator’,Screen 3: 74±87.

Haraway, D. (1989) Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World ofModern Science. London: Routledge.


  • “Jeffrey Hamburger (1997), for example, argues that visual images were central to certain kinds of premodern, medieval spirituality, and Ella Shohat and Robert Stam (1998)have argued forcefully against the Eurocentrism that pervades many discussions of `the visual'” (Rose, 2001, p.8).
  • “In this sort of work, it is argued that a particular, historically specific visuality was central to a particular, ocular-centric culture. In using the notion of culture in this broad sense, however, certain analytical questions become difficult to ask. In particular, culture as whole way of life can slip rather easily into a notion of culture as simply a whole, and the issue of difference becomes obscured” (Rose, 2001, p.13). 


  • Can an image ever be universal or neutral? Haraway claims that images create social difference among class, race, gender, and sexuality, visualizing an argument of order. Can individual’s order be classified in an image of their making?
  • When scholars look on today’s fad of selfies, can they truly apply this methodology of viewing images? It seems that it would be difficult to take all those images seriously and also to discover the context in which the selfie was taken.


  1. It’s not easy to say definitively whether this methodology could be applied to selfies. But it does open onto variations of the methodology that could take a widespread cultural phenomenon such as selfies and help us think about who they are for and why people take them. There is a fair amount of published scholarship on selfies (Googling “selfie academic article” confirms this tidbit). So while I don’t think Rose has all the answers, certainly her work would be relevant for folding into a lit review in a project that would, for example, look into what people do with selfies insofar as sending them to others, referring back to old seflies, and so on.

  2. To address your first question, I think the answer is “no,” there can be no truly neutral or universal image. I’m running into this problem with my project, where I wanted to try to find some universal punctum in photographs, but they always seem to be routed culturally, temporally, etc. One may argue that the more abstract an image is, the more universal – which seems to be partially true, but when we think about how Rose states, “visual imagery is never innocent; it is always constructed through various practices, technologies and knowledges” (32) – it is sometimes not just the visual that removes the neutrality. The very access to the medium or the thing creating an image on the medium (be it a printer or otherwise) embeds an individuals order into it.

  3. There is a large part of me that tends to agree with Gillian Rose that it would be hard for an image to truly be universal or neutral (the only kind I can think of that might fall close to this category would be abstract art or landscapes, maybe). I think that images might seem neutral or universal when certain aspects of that image are being taken for granted. For example, it is more likely for a depiction of a white man doing something to just be seen as “a man doing something” rather than “a white man doing something.” Indicators of social class may be present and recognized within that depiction, but at times the race factor can be seen as somewhat ‘invisible’ if the subject is white, which in itself seems to be an indication of a sort of power. What an image depicts and how it is depicted can affect the way the subject is seen and either perpetuate an existing construct or push back against an existing construct.

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