20 June, 2008
Institut du Monde Anglophone de Paris III , 5 rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris Join us

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Call for Papers:

For its 2008 conference, the SAIT, the French scholarly society for the study of artistic and literary intertextuality in the English-speaking world, will pursue the process of reflection undertaken in its 2007 conference, “Writings on Art.” The conference will explore ways of answering the question posed by Louis Marin – “[…] why does one even need to comment on a painting if the end envisaged by the painter’s action can be achieved simply by experiencing pleasure or jouissance?” – and analyse possible contradictions between language and the perception of the visual arts.

We invite proposals for papers that examine the modes by which writing on art approaches the work of art (technical analysis, reference, allusion, the various tropes resorted to), and the pragmatic implications of such writing (the construction of a context for the interpretation, evaluation, and reception of works of art). What is at stake in writing on art? How are works of art to be described? To what ends, and for what readership?

Focusing on the various modes of art writing and on its repercussions on the art work, we shall seek new ways of assessing the impact of literary and critical practice upon the production of art (in painting, photography, architecture, gardens, etc.) and upon taste in the English-speaking world.

Topics may include, but are by no means limited to:

  • Modes of art writing and their integration within specific literary and critical genres, including essays, fiction, poetry, treatises, reviews.
  • The relationship between writing and art, and the extent to which the written text can represent the visual.
  • Ekphrasis and its impact on the reception – contemporary or deferred – of works of art: defining values, rewriting the canon.
  • The choice of a mode of writing: the influence of genre-specific literary aesthetics, and of the aesthetics informing the work of art. Are there ways in which works may “programme” specific readings, discursive modes or styles?


Friday 20 June

 09.00: Registration

 I. Varieties of ekphrasis

 1. Literature

  • 09.30: Yann Tholoniat (Strasbourg 2): Du Haggis et du whisky: poétique et politique de l’ekphrasis chez Robert Burns
  • 10.00: Caroline Bertonèche (Paris 3): Décrire l’œuvre d’art selon Keats: culture hellénique, ekphrasis féminine et modernité sexuelle dans les Odes


  • 11.00: Gilles Soubigou (Paris 4): Walter Scott et le discours sur l’art: de l’œil de l’antiquaire au regard du conteur
  • 11.30: Juliette Giraudeau (Paris 3): Harmonies et discordances: l’ekphrasis musicale dans The Mill on the Floss et Middlemarch de George Eliot


  • 2.00: Carla Taban (Toronto): Samuel Beckett: du discours descriptif, fictif et critique sur la peinture à la contiguïté du discursif et du pictural
  • 2.30: Marie Bouchet (Toulouse-le-Mirail): L’ekphrasis nabokovienne, ou quand l’image enchante le langage
  • 3.00: Caroline Marie (Paris 8): ‘A Very Practical utopia’: Alva & Irva d’Edward Carey ou la transmodalité de l’art comme u-topie


2. Art writing

  • 4.00: Laurent Châtel (Paris 4): William Beckford’s Biographical Memoirs of Extraordinary Painters or the subversion of Lives of the Artists
  • 4.30: Dana Arnold (Southampton): ‘It is not writing in the full sense of the word’: Graphic notations of architecture as a mode of ekphrasis

5.00: Discussion

5.30: Cocktail offered by SAIT

8.00: Dinner

Saturday 21 June

II. Directing Reception

1. Modes of criticism

  • 09.30: Paul Tucker (Florence): The Changing Role of Description in Artwriting in English (1685-2007)
  • 10.00: Konstantinos Vassiliou (Paris 1): Between Norm and Description: Art Writing and Postmodern Philosophy
  • 11.00: Robert Reay–Jones (Cardiff): Performative Criticism: Logic, Ethics, Pragmatics


11.30: Plenary conference

Baldine Saint Girons (Paris 10): L’Acte esthétique et la démangeaison de témoigner

Lunch – Working meeting of SAIT

2. The artist’s words

  • 2.30: Isabelle Schwarz (Sprengel Museum, Hanovre): “Propositions, Ideas and concepts by Artists: Artists’ Writing in Conceptual Art”
  • 3.00: Jon Shaw (East Anglia): “Untitled – On Sculpture and Negation”


  • 4.00: Laurence Corbel (Paris 1): “‘Les mots pris dans les yeux’: l’art de la critique chez Robert Smithson”
  • 4.30: Robert Slifkin (Reed College): “Philip Guston’s ‘Book’ Paintings: Lateral Aesthetics and Literary Longing in 1960s Art”

5.00: Discussion