Visual epistemology


Comparative Studies of Ideas and Cultures (3rd level)

Interdisciplinary study of institutions and society in the 21st century – politics, economics, technology, epistemology

Course code: 104

Year of Study: Without

Course principal and lecturer:
Prof. Jelica Šumič Riha, Ph. D.
Asist. Magdalena Germek, Ph.D.


Workload: lectures 60 hours, seminar 30 hours

Course type: general elective

Languages: Slovene, English

Learning and teaching methods: lectures, discussion classes


Course syllabus


Enrollment in doctoral studies


Content (Syllabus outline):

Epistemology and visual epistemology:

  • The concept of knowledge, from antiquity to modern epistemologies: a historical review and conceptual definition;
  • The placement of the visual in the regime of the known;
  • Linguistic sign vs. epistemic picture;
  • Ekphrasis, representation, and presentation; “performance presentation” (Gottfried Boehm);
  • Cognitive vs. a philosophical definition of “visual thinking”.


The visual epistemology of art theory:

  • Art and knowledge;
  • Epistemological and aesthetic;
  • Iconographic turn;
  • The epistemology of the image or existential-phenomenological experience?;
  • Visual multimedia: picture, poster, photograph, film.


Science in the medium of visual production:

  • Scientific illustrations: between decoration, didactics, and the production of the new;
  • Scientific-aesthetic or scientific and aesthetic?;
  • Image and body: anatomical illustrations in the grip of the scientific and the cultural;
  • Mathematical thinking as visual thinking?;
  • The physical macrocosm in an illustration of the microcosm.



  • Alexander Jeffrey C., Dominik Bartmański, and Bernhard Giesen (eds.). 2012. Iconic Power. Materiality and Meaning in Social Life. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Baigrie, Brian S. 1996. Picturing Knowledge: Historical and Philosophical Problems Concerning the Use of Art in Science, Toronto, Buffalo, London: University of Toronto Press.
  • Boehm, Gottfried. 1995. Was ist ein Bild? München: W. Fink.
  • Foster, Hal. 1985. Vision and Visuality. Seattle: Bay Press.
  • Kemp, Martin. 2000. “Vision and Visualisation in the Illustration of Anatomy and Astronomy from Leonardo to Galileo,” in G. Freeland and A. Corones (eds.), 1543 and All That: Image and Word, Change and Continuity in the Proto-Scientific Revolution. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
  • Klinke, Harald (ed.). 2014. Art Theory as Visual Epistemology. Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
  • Jones, Caroline A., Peter Galison (eds.). 2013. Picturing Science Producing Art. London: Routledge.
  • O’Malley, C. D., and J. B. de C. M. Saunders, 1950. The illustrations from the works of Andreas Vesalius of Brussels. Cleveland: World Publishing Company.
  • Šuvaković, Miško. 2008. Epistemology of Art: Critical Design for Procedures and Platforms of Contemporary Art Education. Belgrade: TkH.


Objectives and competences:

  • The ability to develop the abilities and skills needed for interdisciplinary approaches and methodologies;
  • The ability to connect different disciplinary areas of research and to deepen basic knowledge;
  • The ability to critically think about a text, linguistic sign, and the classical concept of knowledge;
  • The ability to detect and map ideological (racial, gender, and imperialist) substrates in the visual-artistic and visual-scientific history of Western Europe;
  • The ability to understand fundamental epistemological and phenomenological concepts in the field of sensibility and visual perception.


Intended learning outcomes:

Through the analysis of relevant literature, students will have the opportunity of original interdisciplinary research that goes beyond the classic division into arts, humanities and natural sciences.


Learning and teaching methods:

Types of learning/teaching:

  • Frontal teaching
  • Work in smaller groups or pair work
  • Independent students work
  • e-learning


Teaching methods:

  • Explanation
  • Conversation/discussion/debate
  • Work with texts



  • 20 % Short written assignments
  • 80 % Long written assignments