It's been a few weeks since I was in Connecticut at the Language of Images conference: www.english.ccsu.edu/petit/ so now seems as good a time as any to post reflections. The most important idea I took from the conference is that I need to clarify that my area of interest is around written texts incorporating images in a literal sense – I'm discussing novels with actual images rather than descriptive prose. I was surprised to find that many discussions around "images in fiction" were about written descriptions of images (think Picture of Dorian Gray). Ekphrasis: a rhetorical device by which one art form describes another art form. I was also surprised by how many speakers did not show examples from the illustrated books they discussed. One paper compared W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants with Penelope Lively's The Photograph but without any images of the books it was unclear until half way through question time that The Emigrants has reproductions of photographs printed in the text but The Photograph does not - it has a written description of a photograph. Often 'photographs' were discussed, but not necessarily a specific photograph or in terms of the relationship to the surrounding text.
Feedback from my paper: I presented a way to discuss the typo/graphic elements in Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by using literary terms. The response was an interest in how a designer would react to these elements, how I would use design rhetoric to describe them. An interesting exercise might be to review the same book from the perspective of a design critic and the perspective of a literary critic. Sebald's work will lend itself well to this exercise, as my first reaction to seeing his book was 'these photos are awful'; I was considering their aesthetic quality as individual images rather than their contribution to a narrative whole. Also need to look at the distinction between inter and intra text, semiotic analysis (sigh) uses these terms in quite specific ways.
Keynote: Karen Jacobs, 'The Archeology of the Image'
Postmodern archival text: post 1950s written text including public/private documents/ephemera. W.G. Sebald. Also Eco's Mysterious Flame?
Foucault discusses using archival documents as descriptive rather than interpretive.
You plot a map, but also a narrative.
"The paranoid reader": the more you look the more you think everything is connected.
Panel E: Literary Illustrations
Kirsty Bell: Claims illustration always follows text, as an illustration is an artist's interpretation of text (or idea?)
David Spector: Talked about "pre-illustration", when an illustration inspires text, he convincingly argued an illustration from Thomas Bewick's A History of British Birds inspired the description of Thornfield mansion in Jane Eyre.
Panel C: Text and Image in Fiction I
Maha Meraay: discusses Sebald's work as a mosaic, comprehension of word and image is not through one to one relationships but by the bigger picture, the image is a function of the whole.
Pascale Tollance: describes the writer as a maker of images, but with words.
Keynote: Liliane Louvel
Captioning is reductive, captioning an image reduces the potential readings. Reading is active while viewing is passive (?). Notion of a 'pictoral third': in between text and image is a dynamic moment, synesthesia, when an image appears in a reader's head (their "inner screen") the pictoral 3rd hovers between image and text - a written description of an image hangs as a floating 3rd image, because the image in a reader's head will never be the same as the image in a writer's head.
Sean McGlade: Giving voice to memory is like giving voice to an image, perhaps why memoirs include photographs. These photographs are often more inspiration than illustration (for the writer or reader?) A photograph can show what is significant more than what is true? Once an ekphrastic analysis is complete, it becomes an artwork in itself.
Isabell Gadoin: Sebald works in genres that usually have images - memoir, travel narrative. Text and image compete but do not repeat.
If the "word is made flesh" through typography, what is the image made?
What does "graphic" mean in a literary sense? Look at Hillis Miller