This study compares text/image interaction as manifested in emblem books (and related forms) and the modern bande dessinée, or French-language comic strip. It moves beyond the issue of defining the emblematic genre to examine the ways in which emblems - and their modern counterparts - interact with the surrounding culture, and what they disclose about that culture. Drawing largely on primary material from the Bibliothèque nationale de France and from Glasgow University Library's Stirling Maxwell Collection of emblem literature, Laurence Grove builds on the ideas of Marshall McLuhan, Elizabeth Eisenstein and, more recently, Neil Rhodes and Jonathan Sawday. Divided into four sections-Theoretics, Production, Thematics and Reception-Text/Image Mosaics in French Culture broaches topics such as theoretical approaches (past and present) to text/image forms, the question of narrative within the scope of text/image creations, and the reuse of visual iconography for diametrically opposed political or religious purposes. The author argues that, despite the gap in time between the advent of emblems and that of comic strips, the two forms are analogous, in that both are the products of a 'parallel mentality'. The mindsets of the periods that popularised these forms have certain common features related to repeated social conditions rather than to the pure evolution over time. Grove's analysis and historical contextualisation of that mentality provide insight into our own popular culture forms, not only the comic strip but also other hybrid media such as advertising and the Internet. His juxtaposition of emblems and the bande dessinée increases our understanding of all such combinations of picture and text.
'By taking a fresh perspective on bande dessinée history, Grove casts new light on the "father of comics" Rodolphe TÃ¶pffer, and asks uncomfortable questions about the French industry in the 1940s and 50s.' Roger Sabin, Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, London, UK '… the author's refreshingly keen interest in text/image genres is evident throughout… he has read widely in the emblematic corpus of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. His knowledge of French comics seem equally broad… ' Renaissance Quarterly ’One of the principal strengths of Laurence Grove's Text/Image Mosaics in French Culture is its author's refusal to accept unquestioningly any received ideas regarding the history of the comic… This is a highly readable study by an author who has confident mastery of the diverse, even heterogeneous range of material under consideration. In relation to the BD itself, Grove moves far beyond an often excessively restricted canon to give a clear sense of the genre's historical texture. At the same time, he focuses on under-explored key titles… The argument is consistently well illustrated…’ Modern Language Review
Contents: Foreword; Introduction: Text/image forms; The emblem; The bande dessinée; Previous critical approaches. Theoretics: 'Nemo nescit picturam esse poÃ«ma tacens …'; The ninth art of France. Production: Moveable woodcuts; Mickey, or Le Journal de Mickey?. Thematics: Capricious cupids; Where have all the Nazis gone?. Reception: From moveable mosaic…; …To moving images. Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.