This article aims at offering a reassessment of ekphrasis, expanding on the definitions in work by Tamar Yacobi and James A. W. Heffernan, to name only two. It aims to distinguish between different types of ekphrasis according to the various functions it may assume: narrativizing, maieutic, hermeneutic, subversive, elegiac, and affective. Ekphrasis has undergone a new turn in our digital age and is even more widespread than before, since it is no longer confined to books. The word/image relationship has become more broadly part of our everyday life. This article argues that reception theory and the phenomenology of reading and viewing must be taken into account in analyzing this new experience of a digital virtual world. The emergence of a mental image conjured up by the word/image interaction plays a role not only in our cognitive but also in our bodily experience. I propose that the interaction and oscillation between the page or the screen (the receiving device) on which the ekphrasis appears and our mind’s eye generates a blend that I call the “pictorial third” as a means of accounting for the reading/visualizing experience.
Types of Ekphrasis: An Attempt at Classification
Liliane Louvel is emeritus professor of British literature at the University of Poitiers. She has published widely on the subject of word/image relations, including numerous articles, several collections of essays, and six books, L’œil du texte (1998), The Picture of Dorian Gray: Le double miroir de l’art (2000), Texte/ image, images à lire et textes à voir (2002), Le tiers pictural (2010), and Poetics of the Iconotext (2011). The Pictoral Third, an Essay into Intermedial Studies, is forthcoming in 2018. She is currently president of the European Society for the Study of English (ESSE), elected in 2012, and president of IAWIS/IAERTI, the International Association for Word and Image Studies, elected 2017.