Staff and postgraduate researchers from the University of Southampton’s English  department, from Winchester School of Art and from The John Hansard Gallery came together on 23 January 2018, at an event organised by Sarah Hayden at the Centre for Modern and Contemporary Writing to discuss (broadly) ‘immediacy’. I read out a long image description, with a little contextualisation beforehand, including a quote from D.P. Fowler’s 1991 essay ‘Narrate and Describe’, which puts it better than I could ever hope to:

Precisely because ekphrasis represents a pause at the level of narration and cannot be read functionally, the reader is possessed by a strong need to interpret […] To relate description in this way to narration is to accept its poor relation status but to give it a limited form of social mobility: the more radical move is to free description from its chains of slavery and give it true autonomy. The vanguard of this approach was the nouveau roman, particularly in the theorising of Robbe-Grillet, with its cry that ‘instead of this universe of “significations” (psychological, social, functional), one must try to construct a world more solid, more immediate.

About Jane Birkin

artist, writer etc

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