Szép, Eszter. "Touchy Issues: Visual elements, tactility, and vulnerability in postmodern literature and comics." Travelling Around Cultures. Collected Essays on Literature and Art. Eds. Zsolt Győri and Gabriella Moise. Newcastle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publ, 2016. 259–79.
Added by: joachim (2/5/17, 1:31 AM)
|Resource type: Book Article
Language: en: English
BibTeX citation key: Szp2016
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Keywords: "Letting it Go", Autobiography, Body, Germany, Katin. Miriam, Literature, Narratology, Postmodernism, Sebald. Winfried G., USA
Creators: Győri, Moise, Szép
Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publ. (Newcastle upon Tyne)
Collection: Travelling Around Cultures. Collected Essays on Literature and Art
In this paper I investigate texts where visual elements interrupt the narrative and the reading process, and I look for instances where visual elements appeal to the sense of touch. Touch intervenes in the reading process in ways different to vision. Attention to tactility in visually engaged books requires one to conceptualize reading as a bodily process. I will show this by close-reading two works of fiction and a graphic novel: A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters by Julian Barnes (1989), The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald (2002) and Letting it Go by Miriam Katin (2013). I explore how tactility called forth by the visual text opens up the works to engage in a discourse of vulnerability, and argue that the interpretative dimension in the narrative brought about by the combination of vision and touch creates a provocative corporeal and ethical connection between reader and the artistic product.
A core term of my analysis is vulnerability, used by Judith Butler in Precarious Life (2004) to describe a universal condition of humanity.
I interpret the touch that is elicited by pictures in printed books as a means to recognize vulnerability, and to create a readerly position and relationship to the narrative that is based on exposure and openness. Reading thus becomes a venture that engages the body, and the above mentioned books provide an occasion to take the risk of exploring one’s own vulnerability as well as to respond to that of others.
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