Literature with Other Arts
Edited By Haun Saussy and Gerald Gillespie
“Unruly Fictions”. Literature, Mimesis and Media
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Literature, Mimesis and Media
University of Tartu
Media and Mimesis
While pointing to the rival relationships between verbal and visual signs, W.J.T. Mitchell observes that they are, nevertheless, inextricably interwoven in artistic practices: “all media are mixed media, and all representations are heterogeneous; there are no “purely” visual or verbal arts” (5). Though featured as a universal diagnosis, Mitchell’s statement is itself a symptom of a recent cultural shift that throws fresh light on old practices by merging the old and the new media in an ongoing process of (re)mediation: “A medieval illuminated manuscript, a seventeenth-century painting by David Bailly, and a buttoned and windowed multimedia application are all expressions of a fascination with media” (Bolter and Grusin 12). The (re)mediation process in “multisensory environments” seems to be a natural extension of human senses (cf. McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964, Gene Youngblood’s Expanded Cinema, 1970, or Rancière’s Le partage du sensible, 2000), yet the loose usage of these concepts somehow adumbrates the struggle between rival epistemologies, and various iconoclasms and iconolatries throughout human history.
Despite the powerful development of visual technologies and artistic techniques, linguistically oriented epistemologies were privileged in the humanities in the twentieth century. For analytical philosophers of language, descriptionalists and adepts of mainstream linguistic and literary theories (formalism, New Criticism, structuralism), knowledge and meaning are constituted, or at least mediated, by language: the...
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