3 Description: Still life of drooping flowers spilling onto a ledge, some decaying and being eaten by insects; represents the senses of sight and smell; the decay and broken stems symbolize the transient nature of life, youth, and beauty; the ledge pushed up to the picture plane resembles the ledge seen in posthumous portraits, thus symbolizing death. The crown of thorns flower at the top symbolizes the Passion of Christ.Subject--Description: still life; Pronkstilleven; botanical; flowers; crown of thorns plant; cyclamen; hyacinth; lilies; narcissus; peonies; primrose; tulips; roses; sweetpeas; violet; insects; caterpillar; bird’s nest; eggs; urn; ledgeSubject--Interpretation: senses; smell; beauty; life; transience; Vanitas; Passion of Christ
5 Description: The objects used by Man Ray to create this image are not apparent; the rapid alternation of light and dark on the page stimulates the eye; the stippled spots of black interact with the texture of the paper to activate the surface of the print and suggest positive and negative space.Subject--Description: non-representational; light; light and dark; texture; spotsSubject--Interpretation: positive and negative space
7 Description: President Abraham Lincoln on the Antietam battlefield, with Major Allan Pinkerton, chief of the Secret Service, and Major John McClernand.Subject--Description: portraits; history/legend; war; army camp; soldier; officer; president; tent; campstool; stovepipe hatSubject--Identification: Antietam Battlefield (Sharpsburg, Maryland); Battle of Antietam (American Civil War); Union army; Abraham Lincoln (American president, ); Allan Pinkerton (American Secret Service agent, detective, ); John McClernand (American Union General, )
8 Cataloguing Cultural Objects as a tool for subject cataloguers Aimspractical guidance for subject cataloguers, indexersintra- and inter-indexer consistencyuser–indexer consistencyretrieval effectiveness
9 Cataloguing Cultural Objects as a tool for subject cataloguers Challengeswhat does “subject” mean? -- i.e., what kinds of property of works should be indexed?what kinds of method should be used to determine the subject(s) of works, and ...... to select terms that represent those subjects?what kinds of control should be imposed on the lists of terms from which selection is made, and how should such authority control be implemented?what metadata elements should be established for recording subject data?
10 Cataloguing Cultural Objects as a tool for subject cataloguers Predecessorsart-historical theories of iconography/iconology:Panofsky, van de Waal, van Strateninformation-scientific theories of subject indexing:Layne, Markey, Svenoniusdata value standards:AAT, TGM, ICONCLASSdata structure standards:CDWA, VRA Core
11 Challenges 1. Kinds of subject Subjects, objects, images, textssubjects: e.g., people, things, events, places, conceptsobjects (works) [in museums, archives]: e.g., artworks, buildings, artifacts, documents, collectionsdescriptive cataloguing: what the objects aresubject cataloguing: what subjects the objects are of / about
12 Challenges 1. Kinds of subject, cont’d images [in visual resource collections]: visual representations of objects, e.g., photographs, slides, digital filesdescriptive cataloguing: what the images are; what objects the images are ofsubject cataloguing: what subjects the images are abouttexts [in libraries]: verbal representations of objects, e.g., books, journal articlesdescriptive cataloguing: what the texts aresubject cataloguing: what objects the texts are about; what subjects the texts are about
15 Challenges 1. Kinds of subject, cont’d Panofsky’s theory of iconography3 layers of meaning = 3 layers of iconographical research:pre-iconographical descriptiondescription of primary (natural) subject-matterknowledge required:(i) of objects/events(ii) of history of style: i.e., how objects/events are expressed by certain forms at certain times
16 Challenges 1. Kinds of subject, cont’d iconographical analysisanalysis of secondary (conventional) subject-matterknowledge required:(i) of literary sources of themes/concepts(ii) of history of types: i.e., how themes/concepts are expressed by certain objects/events at certain timesiconological interpretationinterpretation of intrinsic meaning(i) “synthetic intuition” of the “essential tendencies” of human mind(ii) of history of symbols: i.e., how “essential tendencies” are expressed by certain themes/concepts at certain times
17 Challenges 1. Kinds of subject, cont’d Ofness and aboutnesswhat is the work of?generically: descriptione.g., “Nude standing woman seen from front, holding dagger in right hand”specifically: identificatione.g., “The suicide of Lucretia”what is the work about?interpretatione.g., “virtuousness”
18 CCO recommendation #1subject data should be consistently given for all works, not just for representational ones(even if those data end up overlapping with the content of other elements, e.g. Work Type)
19 Challenges 2. Subject analysis Ofnesswho? what? where? when?people, objects/activities, places, timesgeneric to specificleft to right; top to bottom; foreground to background ...
20 Challenges 2. Subject analysis, cont’d Aboutnesswhat is the meaning of the work?what is expressed by the work?what do the objects, events, etc., depicted in the work symbolize?how may the image be interpreted?what was the intention of the work’s creator?how has the work been interpreted historically?
21 CCO recommendation #2take a methodical approach to subject analysis
22 Challenges 3. Term selection What kinds of terms? How many terms?factors that can’t help but affect the specificity of indexing:quality and quantity of available scholarly information about the workextent of indexer’s knowledge of the workextent of indexer’s general pre-iconographic knowledgedepth of indexer’s indexing expertiseavailability of time; money; human resources; technology at institution’s disposal
23 Challenges 3. Term selection, cont’d factors that should also affect the specificity of indexingneeds of end-users: expert and non-expertcharacteristics of the collectionrelative importance of the workpresence of unusual details in the workinstitutional policiesnumber of terms to be assigned per workmethod of subject analysis to be usedcapabilities of systeme.g., to link NTs to BTs, preferred terms to synonyms and RTs, etc.
24 CCO recommendation #3adon’t be specific without the support of scholarly evidencebetter to be general and accurate than specific and wrong
25 CCO recommendation #3buse subject terms that have been identified as “preferred” in established authority files (controlled vocabularies)
26 Challenges 4. Authority control Four kinds of authority filePersonal and Corporate Body Authoritypreferred forms of names of real people/bodies (as artists, patrons, subjects of works)Geographic Place Authoritypreferred forms of names of real places
27 Challenges 4. Authority control, cont’d Concept Authoritypreferred forms of genre termse.g. “still life,” “landscape”preferred forms of generic subject termsobjects, materials, activities, agents, properties, styles, periods treated as subjects
28 Challenges 4. Authority control, cont’d Subject Authoritypreferred forms of iconographical termsproper names, uniform titles, standard labels ...... of characters, situations, events, themes, works (e.g., buildings) ...... in historical, mythological, religious, literary contexts
29 Challenges 4. Authority control, cont’d cf. AAT: Art & Architecture Thesaurusterms for describing what objects / images areproject began 1980; funded by CLR, NEH, Mellon, then Getty from 1985; sponsored by ARLIS, CAA, SAH, etc.current: version 3.0-Web, atcf. ICONCLASS: Iconographic Classification Systemterms for describing what objects / images are of / about1949: van de Waal (U. Leiden) began to develop ideas that led to ICONCLASS: published in 17 vols.ICONCLASS Libertas Browser (KNAW, Amsterdam): web-accessible version, at
30 Challenges 4. Authority control, cont’d Kinds of source of terminology for local authority filesdistinguished by structure:hierarchical vs. non-hierarchicalby object type:subjects vs. people/placesby scope:domain-specific vs. interdisciplinaryby purpose:authority control vs. end-user reference
31 CCO recommendation #4link the occurrences of subject terms in work records to the authority records for those terms(in authority files that implement synonym control and hierarchical structure)
32 Challenges 5. Record structure Metadata element setscf. CDWA: Categories for the Description of Works of Arted. Baca, Harpringfunded by Getty, NEH, CAA2000: version 2.0; on web atcf. VRA Core Categoriesed. Lanzi, Whiteside2002: version 3.0; on web at
33 Challenges 5. Record structure, cont’d Subject metadata elements recommended by CCODescription [free-text; non-repeatable]Subject [required; controlled; repeatable]Extentfor designating the part of the work to which the subject terms are applicableSubject Typefor distinguishing between description, identification, interpretation
34 CCO recommendation #5implement separate subject elements for display and for retrieval
36 Description: Herakles standing in contrapposto, holding his attributes, the skin of the Nemean lion and a club. This statue was found in Tivoli ca. 1790, in the ruins of Hadrian’s villa; it was in the collection of the Marquess of Lansdowne until It is related in appearance to works attributed to 4th-century BCE Greek sculptors; however, the work has an eclectic style that is purely Roman.Subject--Description: religion/mythology; human figure; male; nude; lion skin; clubSubject--Identification: Hercules (Greek/Roman hero); Nemean Lion
37 Example of a Subject Authority record Subject Names: Hercules (preferred); Herakles; Heracles; Ercole; Hercule; HérculesHierarchical Position: Classical mythology--Greek heroic legends--Story of Hercules--HerculesIndexing Terms: Greek hero; king; strength; fortitude; perseverance; Argos; ThebesNote: Probably based on an actual historical figure, a king of ancient Argos. The legendary figure was the son of Zeus and Alcmene ...Related Subjects: Labors of Hercules; Love Affairs of Hercules; Zeus (Greek god); Alcmene (Greek heroine); Hera (Greek goddess)Dates: Story developed in Argos, but was taken over at early date by Thebes; literary sources are late, though earlier texts may be surmised. Earliest: Latest: 9999Sources: ICONCLASS Grant, Michael and John Hazel. Gods and Mortals in Classical Mythology. Springfield, MA: G & C Merriam Company, Page: 212 ff.
38 Opportunities integrity and longevity of data consistent, reliable access to dataexchange, sharing, reuse of datainteroperability of systemseasy migration of data to new systemscommunication, cooperation, collaboration
39 Some residual questions should indexers be expected to do iconographical research to index aboutness?should cultural-historical questions about a work’s unintended meanings be answered by indexers?how may future users’ needs be predicted?what role for general knowledge-organization schemes?
40 DDC Class Iconographyfor texts about the treatment of specific subjects in visual art (and for collections of images of specific subjects)Human figuresNature and still lifeArchitectural subjects and cityscapesSymbolism and allegoryMythology and legendReligionOther specific subjects
41 DDC Class 704.9 Iconography, cont’d Drawing other subjectsAdd to base number the numbers following in –Collections of drawings by subject (Iconography)Add to base number the numbers following in –Photography of specific subjectsAdd to base number the numbers following in –779 PhotographsAdd to base number 779 the numbers following in –
42 DDC Table 3C. Notation to Be Added Where Instructed [at]. 700. 4, 791 for texts about ...Special topics in the artsArts displaying specific qualities of style, mood, viewpointAdd to base number the numbers following —1 in notation 11–18 from Table 3C ...700.42–.48 Arts dealing with specific themes and subjectsAdd to base number the numbers following —3 in notation 32–38 from Table 3C ...Motion pictures, radio, television
43 DDC Table 3C, cont’d Notation to Be Added Where Instructed [at]. 700 —3 Arts ... dealing with specific themes and subjects—32 Places—33 Times—35 Humanity—36 Physical and natural phenomena—37 The supernatural, mythological, legendary—38 Philosophic and abstract themes
44 DDC Table 3C, cont’d Notation to Be Added Where Instructed [at]. 700 —1 Arts ... displaying specific qualities of style, mood, viewpoint—11 Nontraditional viewpoints—12 Realism and naturalism—13 Idealism—14 Classicism and romanticism—15 Symbolism, allegory, fantasy, myth—16 Tragedy and horror—17 Comedy—18 Irony