Literary Visuality

Exploring the Visual Qualities of Literature

Painting with Words, a new research-led seminar at UCC

Having taken a break from teaching over the past year in order to focus on my doctoral research, I’m delighted to be returning to the fold and to have the opportunity to lead my very own seminar.  Entitled Painting with Words: Early Twentieth Century Literary Visuality, it forms part of a series of such seminars being offered under the module code EN2007 to second year undergraduate students at the School of English, University College Cork (UCC).

As my seminar outline summarises, this course serves as an introduction to the emergent area of Literary Visuality Studies.  Inspired by Horace’s famous declaration “Ut pictura poesis” – or “As is painting so is poetry” – this course will appraise the relationship between the verbal and visual arts through consideration of selected works of early twentieth century literature.

This research-led seminar will address the long-standing connection between these sister arts through close examination of such key writers as E.M. Forster, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen; such modernist movements as Cubism, Surrealism and Futurism; and such cultural centres as Paris and London, in particular Bloomsbury.  It will explore the visual qualities of selected texts and the points at which they intersect with the visual arts, helping students to develop the relevant critical vocabulary in the process.  Encouraging class discussion and participation, this seminar will ultimately question if an author can truly paint with words and, if so, to what extent the resulting literature can be considered visual and what forms this visuality may take in the modern era.

This 12-week, 10-credit seminar is assessed through written assignments and oral presentations, and runs from January through March 2013… so stay tuned for updates!


2 comments on “Painting with Words, a new research-led seminar at UCC

  1. soniahowell
    September 30, 2012

    Sounds great, Michael! If I were a second year student in UCC, I would definitely sign up 🙂

    • Michael Waldron
      September 30, 2012

      Thanks Sonia! At last count I had 10 students (there’s a maximum of 12 or 15, I think), so I may not need you quite yet 😀 Looking forward to teaching it though!

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