A rich tradition of art historians and literary critics have often privileged the “window onto the world” view metaphor to understand the focal point of a painting, and to define nineteenth century mimesis. A wide semantic field of metaphors such as “focalization,” “point of view,” “perspective,” “photographic” and later “cinematographic” have insisted on a still observer, and most importantly, on an immobile spectacle in the history of literary and artistic representation at the time of the emergence of nineteenth century realism.
This lecture shall address an alternative aesthetic that runs throughout the long nineteenth century by focusing on the variegated media landscape of pre cinematic entertainment, which includes the optical “philosophical toys” of late eighteenth/early nineteenth century treatises on optics and the expanding attractions of popular culture. Novel theory, therefore, can be recast, by tracking the references to these visual devices in French, British and American fiction. More importantly, print culture through the optical medium of the novel is relevant in this history for it explored, disseminated and contributed to naturalize forms of vision and conceptualization that are coextensive with the emergence of modernity, and which paved the way for the experiments of modernism.
Dr Alberto Gabriele, a graduate of New York University’s Comparative Literature Department is the author of Reading Popular Culture in Victorian Print: Belgravia and Sensationalism (2009).
Supported by the Macgeorge Bequest
IMAGE: Mondo Niovo. Fondazione Musei Civici di Venezia. Museo Correr, Gabinetto dei Disegni e delle Stampe.When
Wednesday, 2 March 2016, 6:30 pm
Macmahon Ball Theatre (Room 107), Old Arts, Parkville