Empreintes et territoires ǀ 2
Julia Thomas (Professor of English Literature at Cardiff University)
Etched in the Memory: Remembering Victorian Illustrations
Victorian illustration is an art of memory, a mode of representation that depends upon and stirs the memories of readers and their capacity for remembering. A metaphorical connection between the concept of memory and methods of artistic production is a long-established one, stretching back to Plato's likening of memories to the impressions retained on wax tablets. In the Victorian period, which witnessed the birth of photographic memories, the wax tablet becomes the photographic plate. In significant ways, however, Victorian notions of memory and remembering actually cross different processes of pictorial production and generic categories and are embedded in illustrations, the prolific and diverse images that appeared alongside the letterpress in books, newspapers, magazines and periodicals. This paper suggests that Victorian illustration engages in the most intrinsic way with ideas of memory. These pictures display acts of remembering, they become vehicles for nostalgia and memorialisation, and they subvert conventional notions and processes of reading. Victorian illustrations are etched in the memory, remembered even when the words they accompany have been long forgotten.
Modératrice : Françoise Baillet