NeMLA 2015 Panel Seeing is Believing: Antiquity and Beyond Abstract due Sept. 30th

full name / name of organization: 
Claire Sommers/The Graduate Center, CUNY
contact email: 

The relationship between the visual and the literary traces its origins to antiquity. In Rhetoric, Aristotle famously defines rhetoric as 'the ability to see the available means of persuasion' (I.2.1). Sight is a vital component of the human cognitive experience; neither education nor persuasion can take place without visualization. Throughout antiquity, philosophical concepts were often conveyed by artistic terminology and visual language and all genres of Classical literature contain lengthy ekphrases.

This panel will examine the relationship between the Classical emphasis on sight and more modern approaches to the visual imagination in literature, philosophy, and theory. The goal of this session will be to understand the modern integration of the literary, philosophical, and the artistic in light of its Classical antecedents, tracing the evolution of the visual imagination from its ancient origins to the present day. Submissions may deal with any genre and possible approaches include (but are not limited to):

* using ancient theories of ekphrasis to interpret pictorial descriptions in more modern literatures and media

* using modern Critical Theory to understand the Classical examples of ekphrasis and the visual evocations of the language used in ancient texts

* analyzing post-Classical allusions to the ancient visual imagination and ekphrases of ancient subject matter

* using modern cognitive approaches to explore the significance of the ancient emphasis on sight and visualization.

Please submit an abstract of 300-500 words to the panel "Seeing is Believing: Antiquity and Beyond" at by September 30, 2014. You will need to create a user account through the NeMLA website in order to submit an abstract. Please contact Claire Sommers ( with any questions.