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Mixed MessagesAmerican Correspondences in Visual and Verbal Practices$
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Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781784991500

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781784991500.001.0001

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Introduction: to fasten words again to visible – and invisible – things

Introduction: to fasten words again to visible – and invisible – things

(p.1) Introduction: to fasten words again to visible – and invisible – things
Mixed Messages

Catherine Gander

Sarah Garland

Manchester University Press

In this extended introductory essay, Catherine Gander and Sarah Garland suggest new ways of looking at the correspondences between visual and verbal practices to consider their material and conceptual connections in a specifically American set of histories, contexts and interpretive traditions. Tracing a lineage of experiential philosophy that is grounded in the overturning of a Cartesian mind/body split, the authors argue for pluralistic perspectives on intermedial innovations that situate embodied and imaginative reader-viewer response as vital to the life of the artwork. Gander and Garland chart two main strands to this approach: the pragmatist strain of American aesthetics and social politics, rooted in the essays of transcendentalist Ralph Waldo Emerson and emanating from the writings of John Dewey and William James; and the conceptualist strain of French-American Marcel Duchamp, whose ground-breaking ideas both positioned the artwork as a phenomenological construction and liberated the artist from established methods of practice and discourse. The ‘imagetext’ (after W. J. T. Mitchell) is therefore, argue Gander and Garland, a site consisting of far more than word and image – but a living assemblage of language, idea, thing, cognition, affect and shared experience.

Keywords:   Imagetext, Pragmatism, American Romanticism, Duchamp, Embodiment, Pluralism, Reader-viewer

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