Painted Readers, Narrative Regress

Lecture by Garrett Stewart
Friday, January 31, 2003 - 4:00pm to 6:00pm
On the evidence of over 200 slides, Stewart (James O. Freedman Professor of Letters, University of Iowa) proposes that the scene of reading in painting, from the Renaissance through cubist modernism, is not just a subcategory of "absorptive portraiture" (Michael Fried's term) but a genre of its own, developing out of the so-called genre scene, or domestic interior, of Dutch realism to infer that deeper "interior" barely glimpsed by the largely invisible engagement with a written surface. Foundational to the humanist valence of private space, this is a genre that reaches its apogee under print capitalism, and against the grain of distractive modern visuality, in the later nineteenth century. What emerges from the historical arc of this paper is a theory of "reverse ekphrasis": plastic art defying its own antinarrative stasis to externalize and refigure the immersive duration of reading and response. In addition to the lecture, Stewart will be presenting at the Mass Culture Workshop from 11:00-1:00 in Cobb 310, Jan. 31 on his recent book, "Between Film and Screen."

Co-sponsored by the Mass Culture Workshop.