Literature, Theory, and Visual Arts: Hybrid Regimes in the 20th and 21st Century(Panel)
Alexandra Irimia (Western University)
The study of the myriad relations that may arise between words and images (or, to put it in Lyotardian terms, between linguistic and visual figuration) has a long tradition that spans from Horatio’s Ut Pictura Poesis to Erwin Panofsky’s iconology, from Gotthold Ephraim Lessing’s Laocoön to W.J.T. Mitchell’s imagextext. Under what forms does this study survive and how is it integrated in the contemporary critical landscape? What new possibilities of interarts comparison does it open for the Comparative Literature of the 21st century?
The latest works of authors such as Georges Didi-Huberman – Passer quoi qu'il en coûte (2017), Aperçues (2018) – combine the modes of critical theory with literary and art criticism. Such hybrid forms of discursive practices question disciplinary boundaries and have the potential to rekindle debates on key concepts such as “intertextuality,” “intermediality,” “ekphrasis,” or “iconotext.” Art history provides us with countless examples of visual use of literary tropes (metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, repetition, oxymoron) in painting, photography, cinema, and popular culture – it suffices to think of René Magritte’s paintings. The poetry of Paul Celan has been translated visually by artists like Anselm Kiefer, while the poetry of Gherasim Luca occasioned, just like Artaud’s writings or Francis Bacon’s paintings, significant theoretical reflections for Gilles Deleuze. Baudrillard infuses Matrix, Proust’s In Search of Lost Time is filled with criticism on both existent and inexistent paintings, while Foucault’s The Order of Things opens with two famous analyses of a literary text (Borges’ Chinese encyclopedia) and a painting (Vélazquez’s Las Meninas).
By the token of these examples, the panel invites theoretical reflections and/or case studies on questions of influence, convergence, correspondence, contagion, intertextuality, and cross-fertilization in the discourses of contemporary literature and literary criticism, critical theory, visual arts, and art criticism. Where, why, and how do (or may) the discourses of the three seemingly independent disciplines intersect? And, most importantly, how has the vocabulary of one helped shape the conceptual tools of another?