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English 7082: Show 'n Tell: Photography in 20th Century Literature

This seminar focuses on an interdisciplinary investigation of the role of photography in contemporary literature from the Western world, with particular emphasis on the post-war period until the present day. A critical overview of the state of research on photography in fiction from ekphrasis to the actual reproduction of photographs in literature will guide discussions about photography’s relation to memory, identity, truth, death, and knowledge. We will think about how authors as diverse as Roland Barthes, W.G. Sebald, and Virginia Woolf have challenged some of the basic assumptions behind the understanding of photography since its invention in the late 1830s. In all instances, the photographic image will be considered as text.

Possible Primary Readings include:

Barthes, Roland. Roland Barthes by Roland Barthes. [1975] Trans. Richard Howard. Berkeley: U of California P, 2005.

Brossard, Nicole. Desert Mauve. [1987] Trans. Susanne de Lotbinière-Hartwood. Toronto: Coach House, 2006.

Chatwin, Bruce. In Patagonia. [1977] London: Vintage, 2005.

Kincaid, Jamaica. Among Flowers: A Walk in the Himalaya. Washington: National Geographic, 2005.

Lively, Penelope. The Photograph. New York: Penguin, 2004.

Momaday, N. Scott. The Names: A Memoir. [1976] Tuscon: U of Arizona P, 1999.

Sebald, W.G. The Emigrants. [1993] Trans. Michael Hulse. New York: New Directions, 1996.

Williamson, Janice. Crybaby! Edmonton: NeWest, 1998.

Woolf, Virginia. Orlando: A Biography. [1928] San Diego: Harcourt Brace & Co., [no date].


Winter 2012


Dr. Nancy Pedri (