What is your concept of ekphrasis

Ekphrasis: literary nature and tradition in English literature of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period

Project
Subject classification European and American literatures
Funding Funding from 2008 to 2015
German Research Foundation (DFG) - Project number 13369539
Using the example of the literary figure of the Ekphrasis, understood here in the narrower sense as a literary description of mostly imaginary works of art, the project examines the change in knowledge and the formation of traditions within English literature. This becomes possible under the condition that the ekphrasis is understood as a topos which on the one hand binds knowledge and makes it available, but at the same time keeps this knowledge flexible and presents it in ever new literary contexts. In the special situation of English literature of the late Middle Ages and the early modern period, the appropriation and dynamization of topical knowledge also resulted in a political process that called into question the tempting promise of the topical to relieve the demands of history. As central questions of cultural tradition and identity are problematized via the ekphrasis, the ekphrasis itself becomes a stage for dealing with history on various levels, up to and including the question of the historicity of knowledge itself Ekphrasis in view in two ways: with regard to its importance for the staging of literary quality and with regard to its tradition in English literature by Chaucer, in English and Middle Scottish literature of the 15th and early 16th centuries, and in the literature of Shakespeare's time. In its versatile functionalization, the ekphrasis serves for reflection on representation theory, as a weapon in the competition of the arts and as a structural element of narratology. However, there is a gap between the theorization of ekphrasis in antiquity, the Middle Ages and the Renaissance - it is conceptualized in rhetoric and poetics exclusively as a descriptio in the service of enargeia - and the complex forms of its metapoietic and tradition-constituting use, which is the aim of the present project . Only then does the ekphrasis become recognizable as an implicit representation-theoretical knowledge of literature, which manifests itself only in the dynamization and fragmentation of tradition itself. This does not remain without consequences for the concept of intentionality discussed in the research group, to which the project can make an important contribution: Because what is known in the Ekphrasis is intentional, without being able to be grasped in a historical-contemporary lexicon of adequate terms. By means of literary processes such as fictionalization or narration, the ekphrasis subjects traditional patterns of image description to a process of topical differentiation, which it also critically reflects at the same time. With the Ekphrasis, the project therefore brings an exciting figure into the discussion for the image-text debates of the research group. In its ›self-reflexivity‹, the ekphrasis assumes a special meaning as soon as the concept of literary tradition becomes problematic as such due to new cultural influences and newly posed questions of national identity - as in England of the late 14th century and that of the Shakespeare period. In the epochs mentioned, the ekphrasis will therefore, according to one of the leading theses of the project, become the central place where the contents and principles of memorial administration as well as the concept of traditionality itself can be discussed. In this specific context, Topik does not deliver on its ambivalent promise to seemingly put history to a standstill, but rather it becomes a scene of conflicts in which the aesthetic becomes political.
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