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Skidmore College
First-Year Experience

Scribner Seminar Program
Course Description

Word and Image

Instructor(s): Marc-André Wiesmann, Foreign Languages and Literatures

Through Western culture, one can trace a long tradition of written literary texts—lyric and epic poems, novels, critical essays—that describe visual works of art and that ask their readers to reflect about the fundamentally different natures of reading and seeing. On the other hand, innumerable paintings and statues use scenes and characters from written works as a topic for visual representation. In this seminar, we will explore this fascinating interplay between the written and the visual arts historically and thematically. To grasp more specifically the shape and intricacies of the topic, we will first examine how the written/visual interaction surfaces in certain twentieth-century texts. We will then go back to the first major text of Western Literature, Homer's Iliad, and analyze how the written/visual interplay finds its original articulation in the way Homer describes the shield that Hephaïstos crafts for Achilles. At this point we will follow the phenomenon chronologically, bringing our investigations into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Course Offered