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date: 24 August 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Vision is an important element in late medieval English reading. Although text and image appear to be antagonistic, they are nevertheless interdependent; W. J. T. Mitchell has argued that every seemingly discrete artwork should really be considered an “imagetext.” Medieval examples of such imagetexts include the narrative images commonly found in wall painting and manuscript illumination, as well as literary works that are organized around visionary experience. From courtly fantasies and prophetic allegories to spiritual revelations and philosophical meditations, narratives of vision constitute a distinct medieval literary genre during the Middle Ages, This article examines visionary experience in medieval literature, arguing that the seeming incommensurability of text and image is precisely why we find them together again and again. Using visionary writing to bring text and image into conversation, medieval artists try to reconcile the contradiction between the two representational modes.

Keywords: vision, reading, text, image, imagery, imagetext, literary genre, visionary writing, medieval literature

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