Skip to main content

World pictures: Globalization and visual culture

Fellow Labourers! The Great Vintage & Harvest is now upon Earth The whole extent of the Globe is explored: Every scattered Atom Of Human Intellect is now flocking to the sound of the Trumpet.

William Blake, Milton: A Poem (1803)


Although “globalization” is one of the dominant issues of our time, relatively little attention has been paid to the metaphors and images that constitute the very idea of the “global” and the whole genealogy of “world pictures” that accompany it. This essay attempts to sketch out the figures of the global, terrestrial, planetary, cosmic, and worldly models of the universe that underwrite this discourse. The aim is to question the facile “smoothness” and transparency that sometimes accompanies globalization talk, and to heighten our sense of its discontinuities and paradoxes. The evolution of the global or planetary model, from the invention of the modern globe to the Blakean “infinite plane” and vortex, to the Heideggerean critique of the “world picture,” is traced here, along with the emergence of an intermediate notion of the “region” and “regionalism” in the construction of large scale social spaces.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to W. J. T. Mitchell.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Mitchell, W.J.T. World pictures: Globalization and visual culture. Neohelicon 34, 49–59 (2007).

Download citation

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Fluid Errancy
  • Republican Party
  • Visual Culture
  • British Empire
  • World Picture