Ekphrasis and Its Multifaceted Nature: Ways of Its Usage in Literature and Cinematography

By Manana Rusieshvili and Rusudan Dolidze.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

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Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 24, 2015 $US5.00

Traditionally, the term “ekphrasis” was used to describe visual works, to present in words something that is mostly imaginary or represented in images. However, further research into this issue has revealed that ekphrasis is a complex phenomenon which is not confined only to “a verbal representation of a visual representation” (Heffernan, 1993), but it may involve several semiotic systems and take a variety of configurations. Consequently, being an intersemiotic phenomenon, ekphrasis may imply not only paintings, films, music or architecture but, also, “uncanonical art forms such as television, photography, comics, and cinematography” (Persin, 1997).
Taking this into consideration, it is only natural that such a complex phenomenon arouses interest among scholars and creates a number of theories regarding the definition, typology, properties, and ways of employing ekphrastic inserts as well as the issues connected with their perception.
This paper addresses the issues of employing ekphrasis in intersemiotic systems involving not only literary ekphrasis but also filmic ekphrastic inserts. More specifically, the paper (1) restates the scopes of ekphrasis and, based on the type and degree of depiction of the work of art in texts created across several semiotic systems, suggests three types of ekphrastic inserts: ekphrastic description, ekphrastic allusion and ekphrastic simile, (b) discusses how literary and filmic ekphrastic texts are perceived by the reader/viewer.
The textual examples used in this paper are taken from the novel by Chevalier Girl with a pearl earring, an ekphrastic poem by Mitchell inspired by one of the paintings by Vermeer and films Once upon a time in America by Leone, and The Godfather by Coppola.

Keywords: Ekphrasis, ekphrastic inserts, verbal and filmic ekphrasis

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.1-8. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 24, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 365.904KB)).

Prof. Manana Rusieshvili

Full Professor, Head of the Department of English Philology, Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi, Georgia

Prof. Rusudan Dolidze

Associate Professor, The Department of English Philology, Tbilisi State University, Tbilisi, Georgia