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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures

Events in Modern Languages & Cultures

** Postponed** French Research Seminar: Colourless, Banal, Utopian, Charismatic: Early French Literary Prose and Early Photography

14th May 2020, 17:00, ER247, Dr Jane Gilbert (University College, London)

Part of my ongoing project on Form in Translation, this paper stages a dialogue between, on the one hand, the formal and stylistic qualities of medieval literary French prose, and, on the other, Roland Barthes’s writings about early photography. Photography fails to capture information that painting can, yet its minimalist surface and apparent indexicality have a charisma that lends a sheen to banal reality. French literary prose, which came to the fore fairly suddenly around 1200, lacks the vividness and drama of the well-established verse narration, yet its ‘under-writing’ presented a new vision of the world that evidently appealed to medieval audiences, since surviving manuscripts of French prose works are many and widespread, and many verse narratives were re-written in prose. In this paper, I want to think about degree-zero stylistics and its power intermedially across these two forms.

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