Friday, March 07, 2008

Ekphrasis: Image and Text
Vessela Valiavitcharska

It’s not easy to separate the visual from the textual in discussions of communication. While some have argued for “a cognitive divide between oral and visual cultures” represented by the progression from the visual to the textual, it is far more likely that the two modes are connected, and that “cultures freely borrow and adapt” from visual and textual methods of representation “when the need arises.” One conversation about the relationship between the visual and the textual concerns ekphrasis, commonly defined as the poetic description of a work of art. Regretfully, this popular definition of the term disregards the long and rich rhetorical tradition of ekphrasis, which has been understood as the rhetorically charged description of anything that can be perceived visually or evoked mentally.