The Language of Vision celebrates and interprets the complementary expressions of photography and literature in the South. Southern imagery and text affect one another, explains Joseph R. Millichap, as intertextual languages and influential visions. Focusing on the 1930s, and including significant works both before and after this preeminent decade, Millichap uncovers fascinating convergences between mediums, particularly in the interplay of documentary realism and subjective modernism.
Millichap’s subjects range from William Faulkner’s fiction, perhaps the best representation of literary and graphic tensions of the period, and the work of other major figures like Robert Penn Warren and Eudora Welty to specific texts, including James Agee’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. Fleshing out historical and cultural background as well as critical and theoretical context, Millichap shows how these texts echo and inform the visual medium to reveal personal insights and cultural meanings. Warren’s fictions and poems, Millichap argues, redefine literary and graphic tensions throughout the late twentieth century; Welty’s narratives and photographs reinterpret gender, race, and class; and Ellison’s analysis of race in segregated America draws from contemporary photography. Millichap also traces these themes and visions in Natasha Trethewey’s contemporary poetry and prose, revealing how the resonances of these artistic and historical developments extend into the new century. This groundbreaking study reads southern literature through the prism of photography, offering an innovative formulation of the dialectic art forms.
1. The Language of Vision in Photography and Southern Literature
2. James Agee, Photography, and Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
3. William Faulkner, Photography, and the Dialectic of the 1930s
4. Robert Penn Warren, Photography, and Southern Letters
5. Eudora Welty, Photography, and Southern Narratives
6. Ralph Ellison, Photography, and Invisible Man
7. Photography and Southern Literature in a New Century
Joseph R. Millichap, professor emeritus of English at Western Kentucky University, has taught and published widely in American and southern literature, art, and culture. He is the author of eight books, including Robert Penn Warren after Audubon: The Work of Aging and the Quest for Transcendence in His Later Poetry, and over one hundred articles and essays.
Praise for The Language of Vision
“An important addition to the literature on a growing field of academic study: intertextuality. . . . Highly recommended.”—CHOICE
“Somewhat astonishingly, no one has previously given sustained attention to these interrelated writers and photographers as a group, and it is in doing so that Millichap’s monograph will prove most useful for students and scholars. His purposes in this slim volume are synthetic and, in the best sense of the word, provocative: to bring together two rich artistic and critical traditions in ways that demonstrate the mutually enlivening creative interplay at work, and that inspire further investigation. In this, The Language of Vision performs a valuable service indeed.”—Modernism/Modernity