Includes bibliographical references and index.
Introduction : Themes of contemporary art: what, why, and how ; A brief orientation -- The art world expands : Overview of history and art history: 1980-2016 ; A spectrum of voices emerges ; Globalization ; Theory flexes its muscles ; Impact of the digital ; Traditions survive, new trends arrive ; Social experience as art ; Art meets contemporary culture ; Profile: Katharina Grosse ; Profile: Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch -- Identity : A focus on identity in art history ; Identity is collective and relational ; Identity politics ; Otherness and representation ; Essentialism versus diversity ; Authenticity and hybridity ; Identity is constructed : Deconstructing difference; The fluidity of identity; Fictional identities ; Are we post identity? ; Profile: Shirin Neshat ; Profile: Nancy Burson -- The body : Past figurative art ; The body beautiful ; A new spin on the body: The body is a battleground; The body is a sign; Performing bodies ; Sexual bodies : The gaze; Sex and violence ; Mortal bodies ; Grotesque bodies ; Classifying humans in the genomic age ; Posthuman bodies ; Profile: Renée Cox ; Profile: Zhang Huan --
Time : Changing views of time ; Time and art history ; Representing time ; Time as medium : Live art; Film and video; Process art ; Exploring the structure of time : Counting and measuring time; Reordering time; Expressing endlessness ; Profile: Hiroshi Sugimoto ; Profile: Cornelia Parker -- Memory : Memory and art history ; The texture of memory : Memory is emotional; Memory is unreliable; Memory is multisensory ; Strategies for representing the past : Displaying evidence; Reenacting the past; Fracturing narratives and reshuffling memories ; Storehouses of memory ; Revisiting the past : Recovering history; Rethinking history; Reframing the present ; Commemorating the past ; Profile: Christian Boltanski ; Profile: Brian Tolle -- Place : Places have meaning ; Places have value ; History's influence : Representations of space; (Most) works of art exist in a place ; What's public? What's private? ; Dislocation ; Looking out for places ; Fictionalized places ; Profile: Turbine Hall at Tate Modern ; Profile: Andrea Zittel --
Language : Art and words: a history ; Recent theories of language ; Reasons for using language ; Language makes meaning ; Language takes form : Transparency and translucency; Spatiality and physicality; Books made by artists; Art made with books ; Wielding the power of language ; Naming ; Confronting the challenge of translation ; Using text in the digital age ; Profile: Nina Katchadourian ; Profile: Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller -- Science : What is science? ; Artists as amateur scientists ; Artists adopt scientific tools and materials : Creole technologies; Bio art ; The ideology of science : Changing paradigms of science; Is science running amok? Activist art responds ; The visual culture of science : Scientific imaging and art; Deconstructing the visual culture of science; Scientific displays and archives; Science in popular cutlure ; Is nature natural? ; Marveling at the universe ; Profile: Patricia Piccinini ; Profile: Eduard Kac --
Spirituality : Spirituality and religion ; Enchantment ; A short history ; Religious iconography ; Spiritual forms and materials ; Mingling the sacred and the profane ; Scared spaces and rituals ; Art and transcendence ; Finding faith and harboring doubt ; Expressing religious identities ; Facing death, doom, and destruction ; Profile: Bill Viola ; Profile: José Bedia -- Timeline.