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Picturing the Eighteenth-Century Novel: Illustration, Intermediality and Adaptation
full name / name of organization:
Christina Ionescu and Ann Lewis
Title: Picturing the Eighteenth-Century Novel Through Time: Illustration, Intermediality and Adaptation
Call for Articles
‘Have you noticed that no book ever gets well illustrated once it becomes a classic?’, asked in passing Aubrey Beardsley when faced with the challenge of illustrating Les Liaisons dangereuses in the Art Nouveau era. Yet visually intriguing and conceptually intricate illustrations of eighteenth-century classics are abundantly present at key moments in the history of the book (Romanticism, the fin-de-siècle, the interwar period, amongst others). Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Voltaire’s Candide, Rousseau’s La Nouvelle Héloïse, Goethe’s Werther and Bernardin’s Paul et Virginie are just some examples of canonical texts that have inspired artists not only through time but also across national boundaries and different media. Such texts have produced visual corpora that are as vast as they are diverse. The timeless fascination with Paul et Virginie, for example, has resulted not only in illustrative series that steadily accompanied the text in its various incarnations as a book, but also in drawings, prints, sculptures, caricatures, tapestries, ceramics, clocks, etc., which circulated and were displayed independently of the text. Artistic transpositions and intermedial engagements with eighteenth-century bestsellers range from these visually static, yet geographically mobile forms of expression, to dynamic, performative adaptations such as films, operas and plays.
In spite of the increasing availability of digital images, critical approaches still tend to privilege the authorially sanctioned series (such as Gravelot’s engravings for Rousseau’s bestselling novel, commissioned and designed with the writer’s direct involvement), or ‘intervisual paradigms’ (patterns of iconographic representation considered independently of their text of origin). Moreover, theatrical or cinematic adaptations of eighteenth-century novels are seldom considered in relation to other forms of visual crossover, such as book illustration and decorative objects, though they all a priori rely on similar processes of visualising and adapting the text. The comparative analysis of different series of illustrations and of other forms of artistic representation of the same novel through time and space, however, allows us to explore the complexity of adaptation, to understand the visual representation inspired by text as an intermedial product and cultural phenomenon, and perhaps to grasp the fascination that the eighteenth century continues to exert upon us.
We invite submissions of papers that address any of the following questions through interdisciplinary and cross-cultural approaches:
Please send an abstract of 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com by 1 August 2014. The deadline for submission of completed articles will be June 2015 (approximately 8000 words). Articles may be in French or English. As is usual for peer-reviewed journals, all final decisions concerning the acceptance of articles for this special issue will be made by the JECS editorial board. We also intend to host a workshop around the collection at the BSECS annual conference in January 2016.