Writing and Seeing: Essays on Word and Image

Writing and Seeing: Essays on Word and Image

Writing and Seeing: Essays on Word and Image

Writing and Seeing: Essays on Word and Image


The essays in this volume are informed by a variety of theoretical assumptions and of critical methodologies, but they all share an interest in the intersections of word and image in a variety of media. This unifying rationale secures the present collection's central position in the current critical context, defined as it predominantly is by ways of reading that are based on a relational nexus. The intertextual, the intermedial, the intersemiotic are indeed foregrounded and combined in these essays, conceptually as much as in the critical practices favoured by the various contributions.Studies of literature in its relation to pictorial genres enjoy a relative prominence in the volume - but the range of media and of approaches considered is broad enough to include photography, film, video, television, comic strips, animated film, public art, material culture.


Rui Carvalho Homem Maria de Fátima Lambert

The present volume derives its impetus and title from a research project, Writing and Seeing, and most of its content from a conference that in October 2003 materialised the project’s rationale. At its simplest, this rationale can be defined as concerning the encounter between word and image, visual and verbal, in a variety of media and codes; describing the scope of that encounter as artistic production would specify our perspective somewhat, but the phrase would remain inclusive of all the contributions to this volume; a further specialisation might find us referring to the word and image nexus in literature and the visual arts - a less accurate formula for representing the range of approaches in the book, and yet true to its dominant emphasis.

Above all, the project, the event, and the current publication focus on visual and verbal materials that are defined by a relation; and all three initiatives certainly emerge from a cultural and communicational context in which relational designs take pride of place. Indeed, a variety of discourses in the humanities as in the social sciences, in literary criticism and cultural theory, have for a few decades favoured the liminal, the hybrid and the relational as key concepts, able to inflect a hitherto prevalent cultural and epistemological paradigm. Such discourses foreground an urge to construe all processes of signification and perception in a way that counters the logic of the closed system, and that repeatedly craves for words prefixed inter- and trans-. Cross-boundary concepts and a general querying of any constructs and practices that rest on a presumption of self-containment have been variously theorised in recent years, notably but not exclusively in the plural discursive grounds of poststructuralism and postmodernity. They have thus laid a deep mark on the intellectual environment from which the studies here collected predominantly arise, and which they mean to address.

In close connection with such developments, an equally broad-ranging, transdisciplinary emphasis on space and on its relational and dynamic basis has proved increasingly attractive and productive. A measure of its influence can be gauged from the breadth of its enabling references, various as they are in their ideological frameworks and their sources in intellectual history. Such references include Heidegger, ineluctably, on the rootedness of one’s existential reality, as it emerges in his writings on building and dwelling; but also Michel Foucault’s remarks (often endowed today with a close to prophetic resonance) on the advent of an “epoch of space,” of “simultaneity” and “juxtaposition,” somehow to supersede “the great obsession of the nineteenth century” with history; and thirdly (to cite yet another influential pronouncement) Fredric Jameson’s “cognitive cartography,” and its concern with enabling a sense of place to be defined within the global system of late capitalism, as much as its endorsement of the prevalence of spatial . . .

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