Elective Affinities: Testing Word and Image Relationships

Catriona MacLeod

Rodopi
2009

This volume presents the impressive range of scholarly affinities, approaches, and subjects that characterize today’s word and image studies. The essays, a selection of papers first presented in 2005 at the seventh international conference of the International Association of Word and Image Studies/Association Internationale pour l’Étude des Rapports entre Texte et Image that took place in Philadelphia, are case studies of the diverse configurations of the textual and the iconic. “Elective affinities” — a notion originally borrowed by Goethe for his 1809 novel of the same title from eighteenth-century chemistry — here refers to the active role of the two partners in the relationship of the pictorial and the verbal. Following the experimental modalities opened up by Goethe, the present volume is divided into three sections, which explore, respectively, how words and images can merge in harmony, engage in conflicts and contestations, and, finally, interact in an experimental way that self-consciously tests the boundaries and relations among verbal and visual arts. New perspectives on word and image relationships emerge, in periods, national traditions, works, and materials as different as (among many others) an installation by Marcel Duchamp and the manual accompanying it; the impact of artificial light sources on literature and art; nineteenth-century British illustrations of Native Americans; the contemporary comic book; a seventeenth-century Italian devotional manuscript uniting text, image, and music; Chinese body and performance art.