Ekphrasis Revisited: The Mental Underpinnings of Literary Pictorialism

Nayef Ali Al-Joulan


This paper examines the cognitive essence of ekphrasis. It mainly reviews the most relevant theoretical contributions to highlight one marginalized but very important aspect: the scientific and cognitive nature of literary pictorialism which is usually attributed exclusively to the language of science. For that matter, the study tackles such concepts as mimesis, space, time, memory, photography, and illustration as they relate to literary pictorialism and the visual arts, emphasizing meanwhile the cognitive effect of ekphrasis by which the memorized, recalled, and pictorialized are (re-)studied, (re-)analyzed, and intellectually and emotionally comprehended. It hence argues that the ekphrast is a mental observer of things and a thinker in words, who renders his observation into a language that ‘stems from matter’. Thus, the reader should redo the ekphrast's process by ‘recalling the material’ (in addition to the sensual, emotional, intuitive, and intellectual) aspects of the things communicated in that language, since, by doing so, both the ekphrast and the reader will have performed a cognitive investigation of that which is pictorialized. Key words: cognition; ekphrasis; literary language; et picture poesis; literary pictorialism

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968%2Fj.sll.1923156320100107.004


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