Ekphrastic medieval visions : a new discussion in interarts theory /

"Ekphrastic Medieval Visions explores the transformative power of ekphrasis in high and late medieval dream visions and mystical visions, ending with considerations of contemporary poetry to illustrate how medieval ekphrasis can illuminate current studies in poetics. Barbetti demonstrates that...

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Main Author: Barbetti, Claire.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: New York : Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.
Edition: 1st ed.
Series: New Middle Ages (Palgrave Macmillan (Firm))
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Review by Choice Review

In the introduction to this revisionist study, Barbetti (a working poet) argues that rather than understanding ekphrasis as the verbal representation of a visual object, one should use the term to indicate "processes of composing and interpreting"--an expansive definition that excludes few figurative devices. The book locates this reassessment in an unexpected set of sources: medieval visionary texts, where ekphrasis, Barbetti claims, has been largely ignored. Drawing on Pearl, Piers Plowman, Marguerite Porete's Mirror, Mechthild of Magdeburg's Flowing Light of the Godhead, Hildegaard's Scivias, Julian of Norwich's Shewings, and contemporary ekphrastic poems, Barbetti shows ekphrasis to be dynamically synesthetic, polytemporal, allegorical, and mnemonic. These medieval texts function more as examples of Barbetti's developing theorization of ekphrasis than as objects of study in their own right. The bibliography is sparse and omits numerous influential studies, such as recent work on medieval visuality and interart relations (by Jessica Brantley, Sarah Stanbury, Kathleen Kamerick) and important studies of many of the book's primary sources. Even more surprisingly, Barbetti does not engage medieval poetic theory at any length. Thus, though this book may be of some interest to scholars of contemporary ekphrasis and interart theory, it will likely be less useful to medievalists. Summing Up: Recommended. With reservations. Graduate students, researchers, faculty. S. N. Gayk Indiana University

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