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New interdisciplinary essays on literature and the visual arts

This book offers a comprehensive reassessment of ekphrasis: the verbal representation of visual art. In the past twenty-five years numerous books and articles have appeared covering different aspects of ekphrasis, with scholars arguing that it is a fundamental means by which literary artists have explored the nature of aesthetic experience. However, many critics continue to rely upon the traditional conception of ekphrasis as a form of paragone (competition) between word and image. This interdisciplinary collection seeks to complicate this critical paradigm, and proposes a more reciprocal model of ekphrasis that involves an encounter or exchange between visual and textual cultures. This critical and theoretical shift demands a new form of ekphrastic poetics, which is less concerned with representational and institutional struggles, and more concerned with ideas of ethics, affect, and intersubjectivity. The book brings together leading scholars working in the fields of literary studies, art history, modern languages, and comparative literature, and offers a fresh exploration of ekphrastic texts from the Renaissance to the present day. The chapters in the book are critically and methodologically wide-ranging; yet they share an interest in challenging the paragonal model of ekphrasis that has been prevalent since the early 1990s, and establishing a new set of theoretical frameworks for exploring the ekphrastic encounter.

Ekphrasis and mortality in Andrew Marvell
Keith McDonald

relationship with the general was an ekphrastic encounter that staged the interplay between the verbal and the visual to renegotiate personal and political perspectives. Having previously framed his suspicions about Cromwell in an Ode form derived from Horace, Marvell turns to another of Horace’s dictums, ut pictura poesis, to speak as the voice of Cromwell and, at the same time, privately reassess his own vision of the would-be Protector. Around the late summer of 1653, Marvell penned two short poems in Latin, ‘In Effigiem Oliveri Cromwell’ and ‘In eandem Reginae Sueciae

in Ekphrastic encounters
Ekphrasis and Laocoön digressions in the novel
Catriona MacLeod

5 Blind spots of narration? Ekphrasis and Laocoön digressions in the novel Catriona MacLeod Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Laocoön essay of 1766 has long been understood as a pivotal moment in the classical demarcation of the spatializing properties of plastic arts, its dwelling in and on ‘the frozen moment’, versus the temporal or narrative properties of literature.1 In a departure from long-standing theories of equivalence or convertibility between visual and verbal arts (such as the soonto-be-eclipsed ut pictura poesis tradition), Lessing insisted, via a

in Ekphrastic encounters
Abstract only
Hélène Ibata

between the arts. A closer look at the situation suggests that from the point of view of the literary elite, the ‘sisterly’ bonds had begun to fall apart. The practice of literary pictorialism in poetry, which had seen its heyday in Britain in the first half of the century,1 was on the decline. As M. H. Abrams writes, ‘the use of painting to illuminate the essential character of poetry –​ut pictura poesis –​so widespread in the eighteenth century, almost disappears in the major criticism of the romantic period’.2 More significantly, the painters’ attempts to transcribe

in The challenge of the sublime
Hélène Ibata

that the two arts were ‘sisters’, or ut pictura poesis principle, which had been inherited from classical antiquity, depended on the notion that the poet should seek enargeia, which was the ability to forcefully reproduce the real world, in other words to give a vivid picture of it.65 In this quest, poets attempted to create verbal pictures that were as evocative of visible reality as paintings. The conception had been strengthened by the naturalistic achievements of painting during the Italian Renaissance; and in eighteenth-​century Britain, it had benefited from

in The challenge of the sublime
Abstract only
Dana Arnold

dictum ‘painting is silent poetry, and poetry is talking painting’ to Horace’s perhaps better known adage some four centuries later ‘ ut pictura poesis /as painting so is poetry’ that has become almost synonymous with eighteenth-century preoccupations with landscape. Whilst acknowledging that pleasure is derived from both poetry and painting, Lessing sought to differentiate between the two. 9 If it is true that in its imitations painting uses completely different means or signs than does poetry, namely figures and colours in space rather than articulated sounds

in Architecture and ekphrasis
Jonathan Richardson’s ekphrastic ‘Dissertation’ on Poussin’s Tancred and Erminia
Jason Lawrence

need to consider the marked impact of recent European works on the nascent development of art criticism in England.1 Du Fresnoy’s poem opens with an acknowledgement of the classical paragone between the sibling arts of painting and poetry by alluding to Horace’s famous dictum directly: UT PICTURA POESIS ERIT; similisque Poesi Sit Pictura, refert par æmula quæq; sororem, Alternantque vices & nomina; muta Poesis Dicitur hæc, Pictura loquens solet illa vocari. (Painting and Poesy are two Sisters, which are so like in all things, that they mutually lend to each other

in Ekphrastic encounters
From Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry to British Romantic art
Author: Hélène Ibata

The challenge of the sublime argues that the unprecedented visual inventiveness of the Romantic period in Britain could be seen as a response to theories of the sublime, more specifically to Edmund Burke’s Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful (1757). While it is widely accepted that the Enquiry contributed to shaping the thematics of terror that became fashionable in British art from the 1770s, this book contends that its influence was of even greater consequence, paradoxically because of Burke’s conviction that the visual arts were incapable of conveying the sublime. His argument that the sublime was beyond the reach of painting, because of the mimetic nature of visual representation, directly or indirectly incited visual artists to explore not just new themes, but also new compositional strategies and even new or undeveloped pictorial and graphic media, such as the panorama, book illustrations and capricci. More significantly, it began to call into question mimetic representational models, causing artists to reflect about the presentation of the unpresentable and the inadequacy of their endeavours, and thus drawing attention to the process of artistic production itself, rather than the finished artwork. By revisiting the links between eighteenth-century aesthetic theory and visual practices, The challenge of the sublime establishes new interdisciplinary connections which address researchers in the fields of art history, cultural studies and aesthetics.

Ekphrastic encounters in Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy
Richard Meek

modern encounters see Jean H. Hagstrum, The Sister Arts: The Tradition of Literary Pictorialism and English Poetry from Dryden to Gray (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1958), pp. 66–70. See also Clark Hulse, The Rule of Art: Literature and Painting in the Renaissance (Chicago, IL and London: University of Chicago Press, 1990) and Christopher Braider, ‘The Paradoxical Sisterhood: “Ut Pictura Poesis”’, in Glyn P. Norton (ed.), The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, Volume 3: The Renaissance (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), pp. 168–75.  2

in Ekphrastic encounters
Raymond Pettibon’s drawing-writing
Tilo Reifenstein

perceptible objets d’art (ut pictura poesis)’, or Murray Krieger’s ‘the imitation in literature of a work of plastic art’, appears to always already imply an oppositionality between language and sensuous perceptibility and especially language and visuality/visibility.1 Implicitly, any of these definitions makes language a purely intellectual matter, forgoing the necessity of sensory perception: to hear words being spoken, to read – namely, to see – sentences being written, to feel the embossing of Braille cells. Literature and language in this sense are removed from any

in Ekphrastic encounters