Word-and-Image Relations

Photo: Nancy Pedri

Another research interest of mine is the use of maps in literature and how they intersect with the understanding and narration of self. This interest has led to the publication of "Cartographic Explorations of Self in Michael Ondaatje's Running in the Family and Jacques Poulin's Volkswagen Blues" (2009), an article in which I extend the critical observations of theorists who adhere to a sociological reading of maps - where maps are understood to be narratives conditioned by the cartographer's agency - to examine the ways in which maps in literature inscribe not only the identity of their makers, but the identity of their readers as well. I argue that for readers to see their own faces on a map's surface is to enact the sociology of the map; it is to effectuate, on a personal level, the notion that space is empty, apparently unintelligible until we project our own internal images upon it. This enactment extends the socially constructed knowledge that went into the map's making to its reading as well.

In "Showing the Places you Tell: Visual Evidence in Travel Writing" (2005), I analyse the authorial framing of evidential images - introductory maps and photographic images - and its influence on the reader's epistemological evaluation of factual details through a comparative reading of Tibetan Foothold by Dervla Murphy and In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin. I conclude that these evidential details, used by Murphy and Chatwin, not only implicate readers in the recounted experience, but also appeal to their belief in the veracity of facts. They entice participation and corroborate the narrative's truth-claims by investing it with the lure and reliability of empirical validation.

"Picturing the Language of Images" (2013), a co-authored introduction to a volume of the same title, provides a short critical overview of word and image studies.