Art Moves: Performativity in Time, Space and Form
Edited by mieke Bal
Dossier of Espacio, Tiempo y Forma, VII, 4: 13-373, 2016
The Call for Contributions of this dossier was sent under the same title. This left it to potential contributions to interpret it. The result is, predictably, quite diverse. This was the idea: to get a great variety of views on the question of movement. The many submissions made it both hard to select and very exciting. I tried hard to get a good balance between articles in Spanish and in English (and one in French). The photo here is one of the paintings by Edvard Munch I analyzed to get a grip on the topic that is my own obsession: how is it that still images can be cinematic? This will be a central question in the book I am beginning to write for the exhibition I am curating in the Munch Museum in Oslo - see Emma and Edvard. The dossier is free of access.

Art and Visibility in Migratory Culture
Edited by Mieke Bal and Miguel Hernández-Navarro
Thamyris /Intersecting: Place, Sex and Race 23, Rodopi, 2011

This book explores the idea that art can enact small-scale resistances against the status quo in the social domain. These acts, which we call “little resistances,” determine the limited yet potentially powerful political impact of art. From different angles, seventeen authors consider the spaces where art events occur as “political spaces,” and explore how such spaces host events of disagreements in migratory culture. The newly coined word “migratory” refers to the sensate traces of the movements of migration that characterize contemporary culture. In other words, movement is not an exceptional occurrence in an otherwise stable world, but a normal, generalized process in a world that cannot be grasped in terms of any given notion of stability. Thus the book offers fresh reflections on art’s power to move people, in the double sense of that verb, and shows how it helps to illuminate migratory culture’s contributions to this process.

The Rhetoric of Sincerity
Edited by Ernst van Alphen, Mieke Bal, and Carel Smith
Stanford University Press 2008

In times of intercultural tensions and conflicts, sincerity matters. Traditionally, sincerity concerns a performance of authenticity and truth, a performance that in intercultural situations is easily misunderstood. Sincerity plays a major role in law, the arts—literature, but especially the visual and performing arts—and religion. Sincerity enters the English language in the sixteenth century, when theatre emerged as the dominant idiom of secular representation, during a time of major religious changes. The present historical moment has much in common with that era; with its religious and cultural conflicts and major transformations in representational idioms and media. The Rhetoric of Sincerity is concerned with the ways in which the performance of sincerity is culturally specific and is enacted in different media and disciplines. The book focuses on the theatricality of sincerity, its bodily, linguistic, and social performances, and the success or failure of such performances.

Inge Boer: Uncertain Territories
Edited by Mieke Bal, Bregje van Eekelen and Patricia Spyer
Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2006

Tracing and theorizing the concept of boundaries through literary works, visual objects and cultural phenomena, this book argues against the reification of boundaries as fixed and empty non-spaces that simply divide the world. Expanding on her previous work on gender and Orientalism, lnge Boer takes us into uncertain territories of fashion and art, tourism and travel, skilfully engaging the ambivalence of boundaries, as both protecting and confining, as bringing distinction while existing by virtue of their ability to be transgressed. In her close readings of boundaries as desert, as frame, as home (or lack of it), Boer shows that boundaries are spaces within, through, and in the name of which negotiations take place. They are not lines but spaces; neither fixed nor empty but flexible and inhabited.

With the publication of this book, Boer’s intellectual legacy stretches beyond her untimely passing. The writings that she left behind can be said to have inaugurated the future of her work, presented in the latter part by several I of Boer’s intellectual companions. In their original essays, the contributors elaborate on Boer’s theme of boundaries as spaces where opposition yields to negotiation. Committed to the artefact as cultural stimulant, as the embodiment of thought, their analyses span a multitude of artefacts and media, ranging from literature to photography, to art installation and presentation, to film and song. Fanning out from Boer’s central focus - Orientalism - to other places of contestation, boundaries are shown to mediate the relationship between self and other; they are, ultimately, spaces of encounter.

The Artemisia Files: Artemisia Gentileschi for Feminists and Other Thinking People
Edited by Mieke Bal. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005)

One of the first female artists to achieve recognition in her own time, Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) became instantly popular in the 1970s when feminist art historians ‘discovered’ her and argued vehemently for a place for her in the canon of Italian baroque painters. Featured alongside her father, Orazio Gentileschi, in a recent exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Artemisia has continued to stir interest - though her position in the canon remains precarious, in part because her sensationalized life history has overshadowed her art.

In ‘The Artemisia Files’, Mieke Bal and a distinguished group of contributors look squarely at this early icon of feminist art history and the question of her status as an artist. Here, Artemisia emerges more fully as a highly original artist whose work is greater than the sum of the events that have traditionally defined her life and reputation, such as her relationship to her father and her role as the victim in a highly publicized rape case during which she was tortured into giving evidence. The six essays in ‘The Artemisia Files’ offer a new critical assessment of Artemisia’s work by devising a variety of approaches that amend past injustices and reconsider the artist and her work from many different angles, including the question of attribution, critical judgment, personal confrontation, Artemisia’s historical context, the exhibition of her work, and popular recastings of her story. The fresh, engaging discourse in ‘The Artemisia Files’ will help to both revive the reputation of this artist on the merit of her work and establish her rightful place in the history of art.

Inge Boer: Disorienting Vision. Rereading Stereotypes in French Orientalist Texts and Images
Edited by Mieke Bal. Amsterdam/New York: Rodopi, 2004)

This book begins with a painting. Loyalty to cultural artefacts, listening carefully to what they have to say, is the secret of Inge E. Boer’s approach to the French Orientalist tradition. In a post-Said manner, Boer provides close readings of philosophical and literary texts, paintings, prints and other artefacts. Her readings establish a dialogue with critical post-colonial and feminist theory as well as (art-) historical and literary scholarship. She treats all these artefacts like subjects in their own right, enabling them to show and tell. This dialogic attention to detail makes for an innovative vision that shuns the sweeping statements of a priori conviction, as much as avoiding the unwitting endorsements that the rhetoric of scholarship sometimes promotes.

Moving through the ‘long nineteenth century’ that began in the mid-eighteenth with ease and elegance, ‘Disorienting Vision’ demonstrates, at a historical moment when it most matters, how to deploy new modes of looking in order to gain access to alterity without exploitation, condescendence, or re-colonization. The book also opens vistas of alterity within us all.

Narrative Theory: Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies
Volumes I-IV; edited by Mieke Bal. London/New York: Routledge, 2004

Following the more recent development of cultural studies, narratology is currently enjoying a kind of comeback due to its long history of engaging non-literary objects. In the 1990s and up to the present, the increasing attention to visual culture has opened up a dialogue between narratology and visual art, which has been made indispensable by the flourishing development of film studies courses. Narrative theory therefore has relevance for a wide number of academic disciplines, including: anthropology; communication; cultural and media studies; history; organization studies; philosophy; post-colonial studies; religious studies and women’s/gender studies. This set of volumes reprints essential papers on the history, breadth, and applicability of narrative theory. The collection includes articles from the leading names of narrative theory, such as Roland Barthes, Mikhail Bakhtin, Tzvetan Todorov and Jean-Françoise Lyotard, as well as lesser-known, though equally important, contributions.

The Practice of Cultural Analysis: Exposing Interdisciplinary Interpretation
Edited by Mieke Bal and Bryan Gonzales. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999

This volume presents an interdisciplinary approach to humanistic scholarship, one that can be situated somewhere between cultural studies and cultural history while being more specific than either. Cultural analysis as a critical practice is based on a keen awareness of the critic’s situatedness in the present - the social and cultural present from which we look, and look back, at objects that are already of the past, objects that we take to define our present culture. Thus it can be summarized by the phrase ‘cultural memory in the present’. Far from being indifferent to history, cultural analysis is devoted to understanding the past as ‘part of’ the present, as what we have around us. The essays gathered here represent the current state of an emerging field of inquiry. At the same time, they suggest to the larger academic world what cultural analysis can and should do, or be, as an interdisciplinary practice. The challenge for this volume is to counter the common assumption that interdisciplinarity makes the object of inquiry vague and the methodology muddled. In meeting that challenge, it offers close textual and visual readings of subjects ranging from Vermeer to abstract expressionism, from the Book of Ruth to Djuna Barnes’s ‘Nightwood’, from the history of cinema to popular culture in Zaire. The essays in Part I, ‘Don’t Look Now: Visual Memory in the Present’, explore in detailed case studies - centered on the theme of visuality or looking - the tricky consequences of the uncertainties regarding history that the presentness of the past entails. Part II, ‘Close-ups and Mirrors: The Return of Close Reading, with a Difference’, demonstrates and advocates ‘listening’ to the object without the New Critical naïveté that claims the text speaks for itself. Instead, the essays create the kind of dialogical situation that is a major characteristic of cultural analysis; the text does not speak for itself, but it does speak back. The essays in Part III, ‘Method Matters: Reflections on the Identity of Cultural Analysis’, do not propose any ‘directions for use’ or authoritative statements on how to do cultural analysis. Arranged in pairs of opposites, the essays represent the kind of fruitful tension that stimulates debate. Though no definite answers are proposed, and conflicting views are left in conflict, the essays stimulate a (self-)reflection on cultural analysis, its practices, and its understandings.

Acts of Memory: Cultural Recall in the Present
Edited by Mieke Bal, Jonathan Crewe, Leo Spitzer. Hanover: University Press of New England, 1999

Acts of Memory’ presents fifteen tightly integrated essays that illustrate the active role of individual and cultural memory in tying the past to the present. Memory, or memorialization, is a cultural activity occurring in the present that offers history another kind of source or document; one that provides insights into the past as it lives on today. The authors, in fields ranging from philosophy and history through literature and media studies, illustrate how memory serves many purposes, between conscious recall and unreflected re-emergence, between nostalgic longing for what is lost to polemical use of the past to reshape the present. Their essays coalesce around three topics: the need for memory and testimonial facilitation of memory, primarily in the case of historical and individual trauma; the site-specific nature of acts of memory, especially in geopolitically conflicted situations; and the potential contributions of acts of memory when facing the difficulties and needs of the present. Neither remnant, document, nor relic of the past, nor floating in a present cut off from the past, cultural memory, for better or worse, binds the past to the present and future. It is that process of binding that we explore in this volume,’ writes Mieke Bal.

Anti-Covenant: Counter-Reading Women’s Lives in the Hebrew Bible
Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic Press and the Almond Press, 1989.

This book is a stimulating collection of papers written largely by participants in a 1986 Harvard Divinity School seminar on the ideology of gender as it is often imposed upon biblical texts. The eleven authors draw upon newer literary theory and particularly the important work of Mieke Bal, a feminist literary critic who uses deconstruction as a tool for undermining male-dominating interpretations. Bal contributes an insightful introduction to her perspective as well as a paper on the sacrifice of Jephthah’s daughter in Judges 11. The other authors come from a wide background: biblical studies, anthropology, family therapy, history, women’s studies, and social work with battered women. Each author treats a particular biblical narrative or section with a small number from the ancestral narratives of Genesis and a greater number from the book of Judges, especially Judges 4 and 11.

The collection as a whole is tied together by a central conviction: every reading is an interpretation inevitably shaped by the reader’s own social and cultural context. Bal writes, “What is wrong with biblical scholarship is not that its readings are male-oriented, but that they are not recognized as readings, hence, that they are put forward as claims to objective truth, positive knowledge, exclusive insight.” Those interested in the function of the Bible as a norm in communities of faith will want to say something more than that. Yet what they say will need to take account of the perspective put forward by Bal and others in Anti-Covenant. (Review written by Dennis T. Olson, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, N. J.).

The Point of Theory. Practices of Cultural Analysis
Edited by Mieke Bal and Inge E. Boer. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press/New York: Continuum, 1994

What is the point of bringing the reflexive discourse called ‘theory’ to bear on such diverse subjects as the Statue of Liberty, the decorations in Freud’s study, a fifteenth-century triptych and contemporary science, on Kant and postmodern literature, Indian traditions and the voice of a soprano? In this volume, twenty-two major cultural theorists seek to make the workings of culture understandable.

Literaire genres en hun gebruik
Edited by Mieke Bal. Muiderberg: Coutinho, 1981

Al vanaf de klassieke oudheid is er veel geschreven over literaire genres. De traditie op dit gebied heeft een sterke invloed gehad op de literaire productie zelf. Schrijvers probeerden namelijk dikwijls hun werk aan te passen aan bestaande genres, of verzetten zich er juist tegen. Aristoteles onderscheidde in zijn poetica twee genres: het verhalende en het dramatische. Hij plaatst dit onderscheid in het kader van zijn algemene kunsttheorie, die de relatie tussen literatuur en werkelijkheid centraal stelt. In deze vertaling van fragmenten van zijn poetica komt hij daarover zelf aan het woord. Onze literatuurbeschouwing wordt eigenlijk nog steeds beheerst door Aristoteles’ indeling. De franse literatuurtheoreticus Genette schetst vervolgens op spirituele wijze de ontwikkeling van Aristoteles’ ideeën en laat zien hoe deze fragmenten in de lange geschiedenis van de literatuurbeschouwing hebben gefunctioneerd en hoe genreopvattingen de ontwikkeling van de literatuur sturen. Hij komt dan tot de conclusie dat we na 2000 jaar eigenlijk nog geen stap verder zijn. Pas wanneer we afstappen van esthetische normen is kritiek op de traditionele ontwikkeling van genres mogelijk. Elk literair werk moet eigenlijk gezien worden als een nieuwe combinatie van oud materiaal aan ideeën en opvattingen. Van Boheemen laat zien hoe dit idee - de intertextualiteit genoemd - tot een zinvolle benadering van de genreproblematiek leidt.

Mensen van papier. Over personages in de literatuur
Edited by Mieke Bal. Assen: Van Gorcum, 1980

In de moderne literatuurwetenschap heeft het personage slechts een marginale plaats. Dat is des te verwonderlijker, omdat het in de meeste literaire teksten juist zo’n centraal element is. Dit boek probeert enigszins in die leemte te voorzien. Het probleem van het personage heeft veel aspecten. Tien auteurs geven een aanzet tot uitwerking daarvan. De artikelen bevatten methoden voor analyse en discussies over de problematische kanten van mensen die alleen op papier bestaan.

Other Edited Works

Intellectual Traditions in Movement - ASCA Brief Edited by Mieke Bal, Thomas Elsaesser, Burcht Pranger, Beate Roessler, Hent de Vries, Willem Weststeijn. Amsterdam: ASCA Press, 1998
Visions and Voices of Otherness - ASCA Brief Edited by Mieke Bal, Thomas Elsaesser, Burcht Pranger, Hent de Vries, Willem Weststeijn. Amsterdam: ASCA Press, 1997
Issues in Cultural Analysis - ASCA Brief Edited by Mieke Bal, Thomas Elsaesser, Burcht Pranger, Patricia Spyer, Hent de Vries, Willem Weststeijn. Kampen: Kok Pharos, 1996
Acts of Translation. Special issue, Journal of Visual Culture 6, no. 1, eds. Mieke Bal and Joanne Morra (April 2007) read editorial here (limited access)
Cultural History: Straddling Borders. John Neubauer zum 70. Geburtstag. Special issue, Arcadia: International Journal of Literary Studies 38, no. 2, eds. Mieke Bal and Jan van Luxemburg, 2003
Passagen 2000: The City, Pace and Space. Special issue, Parallax 12 (July – September), eds. Mieke Bal and David Vanderburgh, 1999 read editorial here (limited access)
Territorialism and Desire. Special issue, European Journal for Semiotic Studies 9, no. 1, eds. Mieke Bal and Mario Caro, 1997
Dire l’indicible: Une écriture moderne de la vision. Special issue, Etudes littéraires 28, no. 3, eds. Mieke Bal and Monique Moser-Verrey, 1996
*Visual Poetics. Special issue, Style 22, no. 2, 1988
Psychopoetics at Work. Special issue, Style 18, no. 3, 1984
Psychopoetics: Theory. Special issue, Poetics 13, no. 4/5, 1984