WiSe 20/21: HS-Literature and Media: The Verbal and the Visual: Description and Ekphrasis
“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, […] before all, to make you see! That — and no more: and it is everything!” This is how Joseph Conrad presented what he ... Lesen Sie weiter
“My task which I am trying to achieve is, by the power of the written word, […] before all, to make you see! That — and no more: and it is everything!” This is how Joseph Conrad presented what he considered the main task of the novelist in 1897, i.e. at the end of a century that was obsessed with the visual: Using verbal signs to evoke a visual image. Readers of nineteenth-century fiction are familiar with (and sometimes bored by) the lengthy descriptions of landscapes, interieurs, faces, cities, and dresses. This seminar explores the history, the process, and the function of such a translation of visual into verbal signs, the ways in which literature attempts to make the readers see. We will begin with the history of ekphrasis, the paragone of arts in antiquity, and the rhetorical tradition of enargeia. Then, we will continue with the visual in early modern literature, with hybrid literary forms like the pattern poem, and with the function of the visual in Shakespeare’s Rape of Lucrece. The third and final section deals with descriptions in and illustrations of Victorian prose fiction – with a selection of texts by Dickens, Brontë, Eliot, and Conrad.
This seminar will be taught online. It consists of synchronous elements (Zoom conferences) and asynchronous ones (BlackBoard; but also digital tools such as the CliC corpus of nineteenth-century fiction (https://clic.bham.ac.uk/) and the digital annotation tool Perusall (https://perusall.com/)).
A reader with material will be provided at the beginning of the semester.