English 150

Senior Seminar: The Literary Image

Section Semester Instructor Time Location Course Areas
6 Fall 2008 Picciotto, Joanna M
Picciotto, Joanna
TTh 12:30-2 223 Wheeler

Other Readings and Media

Lessing, G.E.: Laocoon: An Essay upon the Limits of Painting and Poetry; Scarry, E.: Dreaming by the Book


Reading relies on the neural and cognitive mechanisms of actual perception, but what this reliance tells us about the actual experience of readers is far from clear; there is no consensus regarding the proper definition or even the very existence of the literary image. Exploring the critical tradition that treats literature as ?word-painting? and the counter-tradition it inspired, we will try to develop a critical language to describe the relationship between reading and imagining. Does writing praised for its ?vividness? employ techniques to overcome the fragility and thinness of our mental imagery or does it make a virtue out of that very weakness? How does the felt concreteness or vagueness of a given fictional world shape the reader?s sense of implication in that world? Finally, what sorts of experiences, and readers, do visually oriented models of reading exclude? Students will produce two short analyses and one longer paper.

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