Verbal-Visual Configurations in Postcolonial Literature : Intermedial Aesthetics book cover
1st Edition

Verbal-Visual Configurations in Postcolonial Literature
Intermedial Aesthetics

ISBN 9780367360146
Published May 12, 2020 by Routledge
296 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Examining a range of contemporary Anglophone texts, this book opens up postcolonial and transcultural studies for discussions of visuality and vision. It argues that the preoccupation with visual practices in Anglophone literatures addresses the power of images, vision and visual aesthetics to regulate cultural visibility and modes of identification in an unevenly structured world. The representation of visual practices in the imaginative realm of fiction opens up a zone in which established orders of the sayable and visible may be revised and transformed. In 12 chapters, the book examines narrative fiction by writers such as Michael Ondaatje, Derek Walcott, Salman Rushdie, David Dabydeen and NoViolet Bulawayo, who employ word-image relations to explore the historically fraught links between visual practices and the experience of modernity in a transcultural context. Against this conceptual background, the examination of verbal-visual relations will illustrate how Anglophone fiction models alternative modes of re-presentation that reflect critically on hegemonic visual regimes and reach out for new, more pluralized forms of exchange.

Table of Contents

1 Introduction: The Art and Power of Seeing in Postcolonial Contexts

2 Intermedial Aesthetics in Postcolonial Contexts: Transcultural Contests, Contact Zones and Translations

2. 1 State of the Art: Theoretical Approaches to Word-Image Configurations in Narrative


2. 2 Intermediality Research

2. 3 Ekphrasis

2. 4 Visuality, Ekphrasis and Postcolonial Theory

2. 5 Battles against and Encounters with Otherness

2. 6 Verbal-Visual Configurations: Practices of Translation

2. 7 The Politics of Visuality and the Gaze

3 Visuality and the Ethics of Seeing: Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient

3. 1 Visuality and Ethics – Some Philosophical Perspectives

3. 2 Re-visioning History in Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient (1992)

3. 3 Mapping Processes and the Colonial Gaze

3. 4 Ekphrases – Transcultural Solidarities

3. 5 Partial Points of View and the ‘Multiplication of the Eyes’

3. 6 Visibilities, Invisibilities and "Reserves of Alterities"

4 Renegotiating Frames and Visibility in David Dabydeen’s A Harlot’s Progress

4. 1 Hogarth’s and Dabydeen’s Blacks

4. 2 "Can the Subaltern Speak?" And Can the Subaltern See? – Configurations of Voice and

Vision in Dabydeen’s Fiction

4. 3 A Harlot’s Progress (1985): Navigating the Imagery of 18th-century Britain

4. 4 Challenging Visual Transparency in A Harlot’s Progress

4. 5 Looking beyond the Frame

4. 6 Arts, Commerce and Appropriation

4. 7 The Predicament of Representing Black Subjectivities

5 Salman Rushdie’s Entangled Histories, Travelling Images and Alternative Visions of the Secular Modern Nation-State in Midnight’s Children, The Moor’s Last Sigh and The Enchantress of Florence ¿

5. 1 Salman Rushdie’s Intermedial Aesthetic and Indian Visual

5. 2 Negotiating Postcolonial Identities: Ekphrasis as Counter-Reading in Midnight’s Children (1981)

5. 3 Rushdie’s Ekphrastic Hope: The Moor’s Last Sigh (1995)

5. 4 The Power of Painting and Ekphrasis: The Enchantress of Florence (2008)

5. 5 Ekphrasis and Ethics

6 Derek Walcott’s "Twin Heads": Postcolonial Ekphrasis and Counter-Visions in Tiepolo’s Hound¿

6. 1 Derek Walcott: Navigating the Interstices between Visual and Verbal Art

6. 2 ‘The Art of Seeing’

6. 3 Contesting Origins and Originals: ‘Lime trees trying to be olives’

6. 4 Re-Visioning Impressionism, Provincialising Europe

6. 5 Possibilities and Limits of a Caribbean Aesthetics

6. 6 Walcott’s Painterly Re-Visions

6. 7 Toward a New World Aesthetics and Ethics of Seeing

6. 8 Double Visions, Caribbean Re-Vision and ‘Seeing Shadows’

7 Serial Intermediality: Jamaica Kincaid’s Lucy and See Now Then

7. 1 Postcolonial Subject Positions: Repetition with a Difference

7. 2 Photography and Seriality in Lucy (1990)

7. 3 Repetition and Ekphrasis in See Now Then (2013)

8 Monstrous Alterity: The Intermedial Aesthetics of Anne Carson’s Autobiography of Red

8. 1 Word-Image Configurations in Anne Carson’s Oeuvre

8. 2 Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (1998)

8. 3 Geryon’s Autobiographical Project: Sculpture – Writing – Photography

8. 4 Radicalising Ekphrasis

9 ‘African’ and ‘American’ Ekphrases: NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names

9. 1 The Intensity of Impression in Bulawayo’s We Need New Names (2013)

9. 2 Darling’s Art of Description

9. 3 Africa in the Western Mass Media

9. 4 ‘African’ Ekphrases

9. 5 ‘American’ Ekphrases

9. 6 Visual Contact Zones

10 Global Media Cultures, Travelling Images and Transcultural Ekphrasis in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of A Yellow Sun ¿

10. 1 Rebalancing Stories in a Globalised World

10. 2 Half of a Yellow Sun (2006) – Re-Membering the Nigerian Civil War

10. 3 Transcultural Ekphrases: Igbo-Ukwu Art and Photography

10. 4 War Photography and the Voyeuristic Gaze in Western Media

10. 5 Intermedial Encounters – The Roped Pot as a Narrative Principle

11 Reflections and Refractions of Contemporary Media Cultures in Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief and Open City

11. 1 Convergence Culture and Social Linking

11. 2 Verbal-Visual Configurations in Teju Cole’s Every Day Is for the Thief (2007/2014a) –

Plays of In-Between-Ness

11. 3 Re-visioning Travel Writing: Peripatetic Viewing and Lagos’ "non-linear nature"

11. 4 ‘The Empty Frame’ – Moments of Absence

11. 5 The Ethics and Affects of Visual Practices

11. 6 Restructuring Nigerian Visual Cultures: Photography in Every Day Is for the Thief

11. 7 Ekphrasis in the Digital Age: Open City (2011)

11. 8 New York: Painting and Architecture

11. 9 Brussels: Monuments and Global Communication

11. 10 Back in New York City: Photography

11. 11 Blind Spots

12 Conclusion

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Birgit Neumann (MA, University of Cologne; PhD, University of Giessen) is Chair of Anglophone Literatures and Translation Studies at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf. She previously held positions at the universities of Giessen, Münster and Passau and was Visiting Professor at the universities of Cornell (USA), Madison-Wisconsin (USA) and Anglia Ruskin, Cambridge (UK). She is a member of a number of international research networks and an elected member of the Academy of Europe, of the Coordinating Committee for the Comparative History of Literatures in European Languages (CHLEL) and of the Advisory Board of the "Centre for Comparative Studies", University of Lisbon. She is co-editor of book series on cultural memory (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht), on cultural translation (Narr) and on English and American literatures (Brill). Her research engages with the poetics and politics of Anglophone world literatures, cultural translation, intermediality and postcolonial ecocriticism. She is the author of books on Canadian fictions of memory (2005) and on nationalism in 18th-century British literature (2009). She has edited and co-edited a range of volumes and special issues, including collections on Exotic Things in the 18th-century (2015), A History of British Poetry (2015), British TV Comedies – Cultural Concepts, Contexts and Controversies (2105), Cultures of Emotion in 18th-century Britain (2015), Anglophone World Literatures (2017), Postcolonial Ecocriticism and Anglophone Literatures (2017), Global Literary Histories (2018) as well as on the 21st-century Anglophone Novel (2019).


Gabriele Rippl (MA University of Constance; PhD University of Constance) is Full Professor and Chair of Literatures in English at the University of Berne and Director of the Department of English. Trained in English, American and German Literature, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the Universities of Constance and Bristol, she previously held positions at the University of Constance and Göttingen and was Visiting Professor/Scholar at the Universities of Bern, Zürich, Fribourg, Cambridge, Brighton, UCLA and London (Ontario). She is a member of a number of international research networks, of the Swiss National Research Council, of several other SNSF committees as well as of AcademiaNet (European Expert Database of Outstanding Female Academics). She serves as co-editor of Anglia. Journal of English Philology, the Anglia Book Series and the De Gruyter series Handbooks of English and American Studies. Text and Theory. In addition, she is on the advisory boards of Interfaces, Amerikastudien/American Studies and the Journal for the Study of British Cultures. Her research is currently dedicated to the study of intermediality and ekphrasis in Anglophone transcultural literature, canon formation, cultural sustainability, as well as 20th- and 21st-century Anglophone life writing. Among her major publications are: Anglophone World Literatures (2017, co-edited); Handbook of Intermediality (2015, edited); Handbuch Kanon und Wertung (2013, co-edited); Haunted Narratives: Life Writing in an Age of Trauma (2013, co-edited); Imagescapes: Studies in Intermediality (2010, co-edited); Beschreibungs-Kunst (2005, authored) and Lebenstexte (1998, authored).


Both authors are involved in various international academic associations (ICLA, ACLA, MLA, IAWIS, EASLCES, IAUPE, DGfA, Deutscher Anglistenverband, SANAS, SAUTE, Gesellschaft für Kanadastudien, CHLEL, German Society of 18th-Century Studies) and have acted as reviewers for a number of international research foundations.