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The Emancipated Spectator

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  448 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
The theorists of art and film commonly depict the modern audience as aesthetically and politically passive. In response, both artists and thinkers have sought to transform the spectator into an active agent and the spectacle into a communal performance.

In this follow-up to the acclaimed The Future of the Image, Rancière takes a radically different approach to this attempte
Hardcover, 134 pages
Published November 2nd 2009 by Verso (first published January 1st 2008)
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Mar 16, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: art, non-fiction
Posted on my book blog.

Earlier this year I went to a conference in Lisbon in which Jacques Rancière and Hans Belting discussed various problematics regarding the image. Despite having unfortunately chosen a seat next to a gentleman who kept falling asleep and loudly snoring, I enjoyed the talk, and was intrigued enough to delve into Jacques Rancière’s work (I was already familiar with Hans Belting’s).

The author has some thought-provoking ideas, and he writes in such a clear, logical way that I e
Eric Steere
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it
Ranciere takes exception to the idea of the passive spectator in the world of aesthetics. He posits a power of the spectator that is reactivated in performance (he gives the example of theatre). Intelligence that constructs the performance for the spectator generates energy and thus reformulates a concept of theatre where the spectator becomes an active participant. “…intelligence is always at work—an intelligence that translates signs into other signs and proceeds by comparison and illustration ...more
May 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating take on spectatorship and the image. The strongest essay in this collection is its opening (and title) essay which examines the relationship of the spectator to his/her community and suggests (strongly) that there are not different forms of spectatorship, only equal rights of spectatorship. Reminiscent of Freire. The later essays take to task Barthes while relying on DeLeuze and others in support of appreciating modern image making as an evolution rather than a repudiation of image ...more
Stefan Szczelkun
Feb 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
The first chapter puts forward the core idea that there has been a myth of peoples passivity generated from the established left which has been a central plank of classism by persuading people of the inequality of intelligence between them and their masters. Ranciere talks about abrutir rather than oppression. The crude idea of the inert masses was disposed of well before John Carey's 'The Intellectual and the Masses: : Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia 1880-1939' came out in ...more
John David
This book is a set of five essays in response to Ranciere’s earlier work “The Ignorant Schoolmaster.” All of these pieces are tied together by Ranciere’s attempt to overcome the dyad so often associated with modernist aesthetics of passive spectator/active seer. The title essay extends the concept set forth in “The Ignorant Schoolmaster” by suggesting that the knowledge gap between the educated teacher and the student should be given up in place for an “equality of knowledge.” The goal of this i ...more
Jeremy Allan
Jun 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first French language book I have finished in its entirety. I think in a way that's a sort of testament to its quality, that I was motivated through difficult sections and new vocabulary to continue reading. And to understand.

In terms of content, I think the most engaging sections are probably most derivative of his earlier work, in particular Le maître ignorant, (which I am currently reading), where he presents his arguments on emancipation through intellectual equality. This turns
Tiago Vitória
Tough and demanding. You really have to stay focus and well concentrated to really appreciate this book and its meaning. Ranciere tries to connect 3 different corners of the same spectrum: art, politics and the spectator; and he does that with such a brilliant way of writing, going through several references since Walker Evans till the portuguese director Pedro Costa. What lacks in literary accessibility spares on literary intelligence.
Derek Fenner
May 18, 2012 rated it really liked it
How I got on without Rancière this long, I'll never know.

"Emancipation begins when we challenge the opposition between viewing and acting; when we understand that the self-evidant facts that structure the relations between saying, seeing and doing themselves belong to the structure of domination and subjection."
May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I gave up on that book actually. Some parts were very interesting on the way we act as viewers and how art addresses ideas to us, but then the author lost me, I'm not a philosophy major.
Nicolas Baygert
Recueil de textes assez disparates sur la capacité d'absorption et de digestion de l'art sous toutes ses formes par le spectateur.

Rancière s'inscrit contre l'idée d’un spectateur dépourvu d’un pouvoir de discernement et d'une capacité d'action. « Etre spectateur n'est pas une condition passive qu'il nous faudrait changer en activité mais bien notre situation normale. Tout spectateur est déjà acteur de son histoire ». Rancière évoque dès lors un spectateur affranchi ; protagoniste et interprète
James F
Feb 04, 2015 rated it liked it
Five essays dealing with political theories of art. This is a sort of sequel to The Future of the Image. Like all Ranci��re's books, it was quite interesting and full of novel ways of looking at things; although it was somewhat repetitive, both of his earlier books and within the book itself.

The title essay, "The Emancipated Spectator", deals with theories about the relations of theater and spectators, from Plato through Brecht and Artaud to Guy Debord; he makes the point, which I thought was s
Feb 14, 2017 rated it liked it
There are some great moments, but it gets so discursive in that French theory way that you pretty much lose the thread
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
This was a pretty dense bite of theory for such a small book, but I really appreciated the things I came out of it with: an increased appreciation for the agency of the spectator, a rhetoric and terminology to argue for active spectatorship, and some solutions to my guilt-laden relationships with hyper-political art.

This text is difficult, but I think I can excuse its difficulty because the premise of the text is that art and spectatorship are made up of moments of tension, incomprehension, and

Much to say about this one. I read it for class last semester and I got really into it, especially when it seemed like Ranciere was approaching the conclusions which seeemed to be not quite as clearly articulated as they might have been.

I'll add my thoughts later...some very very compelling, unique, and provocative thinking in this little book.
Tristan Burke
Sep 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As ever, Ranciere is particularly convincing challenging the pervasive belief that images are somehow lies, and are not suitable for depicting certain things. Ranciere's belief that spectators are at the forefront of political action in relation to art is extremely exciting.
Jan 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
Chapter 2 - The Misadventures of Critical Thought presented an excellent challenge to what I thought I knew/understood. Liked Jacques Ranciere -- enough to order a second book by him from
Leonard Houx
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
Not really a book. But a great read. A refreshing corrective to the discourses in philosophical aesthetics discussions that problematize the viewer/viewed, audience/performer distinction.
Kate Elliott
Oct 18, 2015 rated it liked it
A mixture of intriguing new theoretical avenues and complete bullshit. Chapters one and two are really refreshing for a weary student of theory. Read those and ignore the rest of the book.
Jul 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
serias y profundas reflexiones en torno al arte contemporáneo y lo pretencioso de algunas de sus premisas, que además se anulan.
Jul 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theatre
This is one of the best discussions regarding the viewer's role in art. It's absolutely a must read for anyone interested in media studies, theatre, museum studies, or anything media.
Hunter Koch
Jan 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
dang, pretty good i think
Drew Fleshman
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Jacques Rancière (born Algiers, 1940) is a French philosopher and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris (St. Denis) who came to prominence when he co-authored Reading Capital (1968), with the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser.

Rancière contributed to the influential volume Reading "Capital" (though his contribution is not contained in the partial English translation) before
More about Jacques Rancière...

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“This something, I believe, is simply the presupposition that theatre is in and of itself communitarian. This presupposition continues to precede theatrical performances and anticipate its effects. But in a theatre, in front of a performance, just as in a museum, school or street, there are only ever individuals plotting their own paths in the forest of things, acts and signs that confront or surround them. The collective power shared by spectators does not stem from the fact that they are members of a collective body or from some specific form of interactivity. It is the power each of them has to translate what she perceives in her own way, to link it to the unique intellectual adventure that makes her similar to all the rest in as much as this adventure is not like any other. This shared power of the equality of intelligence links individuals, makes them exchange their intellectual adventures, in so far as it keeps them separate from one another, equally capable of using the power everyone has to plot her own path. What our performances — be they teaching or playing, speaking, writing, making art or looking at it — verify is not our participation in a power embodied in the community. It is the capacity of anonymous people, the capacity that makes everyone equal to everyone else. This capacity is exercised through irreducible distances; it is exercised by an unpredictable interplay of associations and dissociations.” 0 likes
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