The Edge of Words

29 November 2013

Dr Nigel Harkness, Queen’s University Belfast

“Certain Things May Be Only Written in Marble”: The Sculptural Encounter in Nineteenth-Century French Fiction


This paper proposes to draw on Barbara Johnson’s reflections on materiality in 'Persons and Things', and recent essays by Naomi Segal to reflect on the operation of gender, seduction, desire and touch in the encounter between the individual and the sculptural in a number of nineteenth-century French fictional works. It will focus in particular on the tension between the embodied and the aesthetic in this encounter and explore the double poetics of the unsayable - both “beyond words” and taboo - to which this gives rise. This seminar is run in conjunction with the French Research Seminar Series programme.