Reading Iconotexts: From Swift to the French Revolution

Reaktion Books, 1995 - 211 pages
Traditionally, texts and images have been discussed together on the assumption that they are 'sister arts,' but in Reading Iconotexts Peter Wagner pushes beyond the world-image opposition in a radical attempt to break down the barriers between literature and art. He sets out here the new approach he has identified for dealing with the 'iconotext'—a genre in which neither image nor text is free from the other. Examples include Swift's Gulliver's Travels, a number of William Hogarth's best-known engravings, and a sample of the so-called 'obscene' propaganda prints that were published during the French Revolution. Throughout, the author argues for the importance of seeing text and image as mutually interdependent in the ways they establish meaning.

It becomes clear in the course of Wagner's exposition that one cannot study prints without taking into account their accompanying inscriptions; whilst illustrated books contain two kinds of 'text'—one verbal, one visual—that are invariably at odds with one another. Drawing on theories of intertextuality and semiotics as developed by Barthes and Kristeva, as well as post-structuralist studies by Derrida, Foucault and others, Reading Iconotexts treats pictures as encoded visual discourse and illustrations in books as counter-discourse. The author's persuasively argued polemic in favour of recognising the 'iconotext' as a viable advance in methodology is an important contribution to current debates on word and image.

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Table des matières

Captain Gulliver and the Pictures
The Marginal as Supplement
Official Discourse in Hogarths Prints
Obscenity and Body Language in the French Revolution
In Lieu of a Conclusion
Droits d'auteur

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