Special Issue of Word & Image: A Journal of Verbal/Visual Enquiry
From its very beginnings, film has been perceived as a hybrid medium mainly composed of the visual but always in combination with the textual. This blend of different media creates a tension that manifests itself in both actual film practice and peripheral elements on the fringes of film. Although film studies partially touches on these areas, they have been widely neglected from the point of view of literary studies. Therefore, the proposed special issue of Word & Image attempts to highlight the applicability of literary methodologies for film studies as an academic discipline.
The contributions to this special issue should analyze illustrative examples of the tension of writing in film, including, but not limited to, three distinct areas: 1) paratexts, 2) film proper, and 3) film theory:
1) Paratexts: The most conspicuous manifestation of the phenomenon of textuality in film is actual writing that appears in movies. Prominent examples are opening and end credits, title sequences, studio logos, and mottos. These peritextual elements ? as Genette calls them since they are located at the periphery of film ? frame the movie as an artifact and serve as a threshold between ?reality? and fiction. Related to these word and image relations are inter-titles and subtitles, which additionally highlight the tension between sound and image through the use of written text. A number of these textual instances deliberately oscillate between writing and image, thus self-reflexively drawing attention to medial dichotomies in cinema. Epitextual elements (i.e. paratexts that are situated outside the actual artifact), such as film posters, too, epitomize the clash between writing and image in film with its specific text-picture configurations.
2) Film Proper: Film practice as such has also allegorized its own habits of blending media meta-cinematically. These habits include the use of personifications of media, the conspicuous incorporation of pieces of visual art and literature as meta-reflexive devices, as well as filmic adaptations of literary texts or novelizations of films. Analyses of these and similar phenomena should provide a deeper insight into the manifold exchanges and interrelationships that exist between cinematic and literary techniques. In deliberately playing with the cinematic potential of words as well as the ?literary? dimension of moving images, films frequently establish a connection between the media.
3) Film Theory: In addition to film practice, which has staged media configurations within film throughout film history, film theory has also employed media dichotomies as a means of defining and positioning film as an independent medium. Early film theorists from Lindsay to Eisenstein drew on writing systems and textual media in order to come to terms with the new aesthetics of film. Recent film narratology, in its attempt to map out a theory of how a story evolves in film, inevitably negotiates with literary theory on issues such as point of view or narrative perspective, thereby positioning film in conflict with textual genres such as the novel.
The aim of the special issue is to address these multifaceted manifestations of writing in film in a set of approximately seven essays.
Potential contributors are invited to submit an initial article abstract (200-300 words) along with a short bibliography and biographical note by January 31, 2013 to the following e-mail addresses:
The editors’ decision will follow on February 20, 2013. Following acceptance, authors will be required to submit their article by July 20, 2013. Completed articles submitted for review should be 5000 – 8000 words in length (notes and bibliography included) and follow the Chicago Manual of Style – the Manual can be consulted at:
The selected papers will be sent to Word & Image, and the final decision concerning the publication of the special issue rests with the journal’s editors, Michèle Hannoosh (University of Michigan) and Catriona MacLeod (University of Pennsylvania).
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