Textual and Visual Selves: Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography

Textual and Visual Selves: Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography

Textual and Visual Selves: Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography

Textual and Visual Selves: Photography, Film, and Comic Art in French Autobiography

Synopsis

Autobiography in France has taken a decidedly visual turn in recent years: photographs, shown or withheld, become evidence of what was, might have been, or cannot be said; photographers, filmmakers, and cartoonists undertake projects that explore issues of identity. Textual and Visual Selves investigates, from a variety of theoretical perspectives, the ways in which the textual and the visual combine in certain French works to reconfigure ideas- and images- of self-representation.
Surprisingly, what these accounts reveal is that photography or film does not necessarily serve to shore up the referentiality of the autobiographical account: on the contrary, the inclusion of visual material can even increase indeterminacy and ambiguity. Far from offering documentary evidence of an extratextual self coincident with the "I" of the text, these images testify only to absence, loss, evasiveness, and the desire to avoid objectification. However, where Roland Barthes famously saw the photograph as a prefiguration of death, in this volume we see how the textual strategies deployed by these writers and artists result in work that is ultimately life-affirming.

Excerpt

Autobiography in France has taken a decidedly visual turn in recent years. Photographs, shown or withheld, have featured in narratives of the self, offered as evidence or as metaphor of what was, what might have been, or what cannot be said. At the same time, French-speaking photographers, filmmakers, and cartoonists have embarked on projects that explore issues of identity, personal and collective. This book presents essays in which the intersection of textual and visual autobiographies is examined from a variety of theoretical perspectives. We begin by briefly surveying some of the debates upon which contributors aim to build.

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